NEW YORK — Fire and police union officials expressed concerns Wednesday that former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s appearance at a screening of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new movie might appear to link a Sept. 11 charity to the film.
“It saddens us any time a tragedy is used to promote anything like a movie,” said Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association.
In “Collateral Damage,” which opens Friday, Schwarzenegger plays a Los Angeles firefighter who seeks vengeance against Colombian terrorists who killed his family. The movie had been scheduled for release in October, but Warner Bros. postponed it after the terrorist attacks.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said that while the union had nothing against Schwarzenegger or the movie, “We consider it exploitative and in bad taste to promote the film by associating it with the tragedy of Sept. 11.”
Giuliani, who watched a screening of the film Wednesday with former Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, said union criticism is premature.
“Let’s see the movie before criticizing it,” the former mayor said Wednesday night outside the Ziegfield Theatre.
Giuliani said Schwarzenegger personally donated $1 million and helped raise an additional $4 million for families of rescue officials killed in the terrorist attacks. Schwarzenegger also attended Wednesday’s screening, but did not speak to reporters.
Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel said tickets to the screening had been given to the Twin Towers Fund, which Giuliani established when he was mayor for the families of firefighters, police and rescue workers lost at the World Trade Center.
Warner Bros. issued a statement Wednesday saying Giuliani and the fund’s staff were invited to the screening simply as guests.
Concerns already were raised over the weekend by immigration and Colombian activists about the film’s Colombian characters.
“There is a small percentage of people in Colombia involved in terrorism and drug activities,” said the Rev. Brian Jordan, a Franciscan priest and immigration activist.
Appearing Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” program, Schwarzenegger said: “The bottom line is, you never can throw everyone in the same pot. This is a story about what America is doing to Colombia, and what Colombians, a few Colombian terrorists, are doing to America and what damage does it cause.”