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Gladiator director in row over filming at Spanish cathedral

 A row has broken out between film director Sir Ridley Scott and Spanish church authorities, over his request to shoot scenes from a new movie about the Crusades in Cordoba Cathedral.

The director, whose work includes Gladiator, Bladerunner, and Thelma and Louise, was hoping to film parts of his new epic, Kingdom of Heaven, inside the Mezquita in Cordoba, but the church has refused him permission, because of concerns that this would cause too much disruption.

Shooting inside the Mezquita would require up to 200 crew and involve the use of false doors, walls and furniture," said Quinn Donoghue, a publicist for the producers.

He told the BBC: "The archbishop refused because we would close the cathedral down for preparations."

He said the Church was also unhappy that the Mezquita, a former mosque and now a Christian cathedral - for centuries a site of sensitivity among Muslims and Christians - would become a "fictional" place of worship in the movie, rather than "playing itself".

But he said he was hopeful they would reach an agreement tomorrow.

He added: "A huge company like ours brings so much to any place in terms of hotels, restaurants and hiring people. It's a major financial benefit to the community."

The £54million epic, due for release next year, will star Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson in the tale of a young blacksmith leading the people of Jerusalem in defence against the 12th Century Crusaders.

Filming is taking place in France, Spain and Morocco.

CORDOBA - 14 January 2004 - 250 words