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''Batman and Robin'' filming sails smoothly

Director Joel Schumacher is happy to work with lead actor George Clooney

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Same Bat-time. Same Bat-channel. Different Bat-attitude. That’s the word on Batman and Robin, flick No. 4 in the series, which starts filming this fall. According to director Joel Schumacher, the atmosphere around Gotham has lightened up. For one thing, George Clooney is a cooler batdude than his predecessor, Val Kilmer, who made filming last summer’s Batman Forever a dark knightmare. ”I was told that Val was difficult and wasn’t [right] for me,” says Schumacher. ”Clooney has a sense of humor. With some people, what you see is what you get.”

It turns out Kilmer wasn’t the only pain in the cowl. Schumacher says Tommy Lee Jones was a heavy as well. ”Jim Carrey was a gentleman, and Tommy Lee was threatened by him. I’m tired of defending overpaid, overprivileged actors. I pray I don’t work with them again.” Of course, this being a Batman film, the project hasn’t been complaint-free. ”George wanted a new Bat-suit,” Schumacher says. ”He did fit into Val’s, but he likes to say that the codpiece had to be made bigger.”