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THE NEGOTIATOR

About The Production
Bringing "The Negotiator" to the screen was a labor of love for producer David Hoberman since the idea was first presented to him by executive producers Robert Stone and Webster Stone, two brothers who find true stories suitable for adaptation into books,

Bringing "The Negotiator" to the screen was a labor of love for producer David Hoberman since the idea was first presented to him by executive producers Robert Stone and Webster Stone, two brothers who find true stories suitable for adaptation into books, films and television programs.

"Their idea was based on an actual event that took place in St. Louis," says Hoberman. "The best hostage negotiator in St. Louis alleged he got framed by people within the police department and ended up taking hostages to smoke out the people he said were the real culprits. And the only guy he felt he could trust was a stranger, so he called in the second-best hostage negotiator in St. Louis to work with him."

What so attracted Hoberman to the project was the story's inherent contradiction of "somebody who epitomizes the law having to break the law in order to prove his innocence; a police officer who commits a crime to prove that he didn't commit the crime they're saying he did. I always thought that was a really interesting premise and moral dilemma.

Hoberman hired screenwriters James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox and began developing the story. "They had a really interesting take on the material and a passion for the story," says Hoberman. "They also had a personal emotional stake in the story because Kevin's family has had policemen in it for generations and they're friends with a lot of cops. So they knew the world really well."

The project was set up at producer Arnon Milchan's New Regency Productions and F. Gary Gray was soon brought on board to direct. "I had seen 'Set It Off,' which I thought was extraordinary," explains Hoberman, "then I showed it to Arnon and the New Regency executives, who loved the movie as much as I did. Like 'The Negotiator,' it was about people pushed against the wall who had to do something illegal in order to survive.

"I thought the story of 'The Negotiator' was very fresh and original," explains Gary Gray. "It's a film that doesn't quite fit into a specific genre and I like that. There are a lot of movies that are specifically action or specifically drama and, to me, this project represents the best of both."

Gray elaborates, "Connecting the kind of large-scale, epic action that we shot in the streets of Chicago with the character-driven moment-by-moment drama that's going on between Danny Roman and Chris Sabian was almost like performing surgery. It was a delicate balance weaving these things together to make sure that one component didn't

upstage the other. Because we have such powerful dramatic moments, we were always careful not to have them diminished by the action."

"But beyond that," Arnon Milchan elaborates, "what's particularly interesting is the dynamic of the arena. Hostage negotiators have to go out instantly, without really knowing the hostage-taker personally, become extremely intimate with that person, get into his psychology, be able to relate to him on his level -- and then turn him around and change his behavior. They have to be willing to put themselves out to do that -- and that means making themselves vulnerable."

The filmmakers all believe the strength of the material and the dynamic of the two central characters is what attracted actors of the caliber of Samuel L. Jackson and Kev

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