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NEWSWEEK COVER: 'Who's Next' 2006; 'The Da Vinci Code'

Cast and Crew of 'The Da Vinci Code' Give First Ever Interview, Open Up About Filming at the Louvre and Including Controversial Elements

Director Ron Howard: There Will Be 'No Placating ... It Would be Ludicrous to Take on This Subject and Then Try to Take the Edges Off. We're Doing This Movie Because We Like the Book'

Virginia Pols, MySpace.com Founders and Olympics-Bound Snowboarder Among Newsweek's Picks for the Top Newsmakers of 2006

NEW YORK, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Filmmaker Ron Howard says that the upcoming movie based on Dan Brown's mega-hit novel "The Da Vinci Code" will not soften the story's more controversial elements. There will be "no placating," he tells Newsweek in its annual "Who's Next" double issue, which names the up-and-comers in politics, business, science, sports and the arts that will make headlines in 2006. "It would be ludicrous to take on this subject and then try to take the edges off. We're doing this movie because we like the book," he says.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20051218/NYSU002 )

Since "The Da Vinci Code" was published in 2003, the book has become a global industry, spawning everything from critical documentaries to reverential bus tours. It has also been condemned by the Vatican for disseminating falsehoods about the Roman Catholic Church. The cult of "The Da Vinci Code" will reach new heights with the release of Columbia Pictures's $125 million film version, starring Tom Hanks and an international cast led by Jean Reno and Audrey Tautou. In their first interview for the movie, director Howard, producer Brian Grazer and the cast open up to Senior Writer Devin Gordon in the December 26-January 2 issue cover story "The Da Vinci Code" (on newsstands Monday, December 19) about filming at the Louvre, responding to the story's critics and preparing for the anticipated international media frenzy upon the film's release in May 2006.

Howard and Grazer describe one of the more unusual visits they paid to secure rights to film at the Louvre: the office of French President Jacques Chirac. "We thought it was going to be a five-minute thing, like a trip to the Oval Office -- a photo and a handshake," says Grazer. But Chirac asked them to sit down and get comfortable. Coffee was poured. They ended up staying close to an hour. Chirac insisted that his guests alert him if their request to film at the Louvre hit any snags. Not only that, he offered some pointers. He suggested they cast his daughter's best friend -- an actress of some acclaim in France -- in the role of Sophie Neveu, the elegant young cryptographer at the heart of the book's mystery (the part ultimately went to Tautou). And he wondered aloud, half seriously, if they could sweeten the paycheck for Reno. "That was hilarious," says Howard. "Fortunately the deal was already closed."

Six months later, Howard and the rest swarmed into the Louvre and set up shop for a week of night shoots. Paris in July offers, at most, seven hours of true darkness -- from about 10 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. -- so there was little time to stop and gape at the treasures. But everyone made sure to take a moment. "The clock's ticking, I've only got so much time to get a lot done, but even still, every once in a while, I would stop in front of, say, John the Baptist's severed head, and for just a second, I'd let myself remember where I was working," says Howard. "That was nice." Hanks's trailer was parked on a street outside the museum, requiring him to hike through countless silent galleries to reach the set. "It was a great walk to work, I'll tell you that," he says. "You're walking past 'The Coronation of the Empress Josephine,' 'Leonidas at Thermopylae' -- just one masterpiece after another."

This year's additional picks for "Who's Next" in 2006:

* Virginia's Democrat Gov. Mark Warner and Republican Sen. George Allen,
who each hopes to head up his respective party's 2008 presidential

* Gordon Brown, Great Britain's chancellor of the Exchequer who is poised
to take over the role of prime minister from Tony Blair sometime before
the next election, expected in 2009.

* Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, founders of MySpace.com, a social
networking site that has become one of the fastest growing properties on
the Web.

* Joseph Canizaro, a real estate and banking mogul with close ties to the
Bush administration who is now arguably the most powerful man on the 17-
member commission charged with rebuilding New Orleans.

* Lisa Randall, a Harvard professor who has been making a name for herself
as one of the most promising theoretical physicists of her generation.

* Seth Westcott, a world snowboarding champion and Olympic hopeful in the
newly introduced event snowboard cross, in which competitors race
towards the finish line simultaneously.

* Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chole Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin, the
cast of HBO's upcoming series "Big Love," about a polygamist family.

* Doo-Ri Chung, a fashion designer who, after only four collections, has
captured the imagination of everyone from Vogue's Anna Wintour to buyers
at big-time stores like Nordstrom's and Nieman Marcus.

* Saigon, a hip-hop artist who eschews thuggery and misogyny and is poised
to crack the mainstream with his major-label debut, "The Greatest Story
Never Told" (out in March).

The special "Who's Next" issue also features the annual "Perspectives" roundup, a review of the year's best cartoons and quotes, and the year-end Conventional Wisdom.

(Read entire cover package at www.Newsweek.com. Click "Pressroom" for news releases.)

"Who's Next": http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3037980/site/newsweek/
"The Da Vinci Code": http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10509652/site/newsweek/

Photo: NewsCom: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20051218/NYSU002
AP Archive: http://photoarchive.ap.org/
AP PhotoExpress Network: PRN1
PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.com

Source: Newsweek

CONTACT: Andrea Faville of Newsweek, +1-212-445-4859

Web site: http://www.newsweek.msnbc.com/

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