Actors Strike Could Suspend Da Vinci Code Filming

The filming of the controversial "Da Vinci Code" prequel and other Hollywood summer projects could be halted in early July if the Screen Actors Guild and studios can't agree on a new contract by the end of this month.

Failure to negotiate a new agreement could prompt actors to go on strike.

Tom Hanks, who stars in the film adaptation of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, has thrown his support behind a pact reached by a smaller actors union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, in hopes of averting the strike. AFTRA will announce the results to membership votes on the new agreement on July 8, according to The Los Angeles Times.

"Angels and Demons" had already experienced a setback from last year until February 2008, when the Writers Guild of America strike ended.

Like "The Da Vinci Code," the prequel has drawn strong opposition from Christians and Catholics alike. The first Brown adaptation danced around the anti-Christian idea that Jesus married and fathered children and depicted the conservative Catholic movement, Opus Dei, as a murderous cult. This time around, Harvard professor Robert Langdon, played by Hanks, battles a secret society from destroying the Vatican with the power of antimatter.

Rome's diocese has banned the producers of the film from shooting inside of two churches in Rome, Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria.

Monsignor Marco Fibbi, a spokesman for the diocese, told The Associated Press last week the filming was rejected because the movie did "not conform to our views."

"It's a film that treats religious issues in a way that contrasts with common religious sentiment," he said.

Fibbi noted that the ban, issued last year, would not prevent the producers from filming the outside of the churches.

Father John Wauck, an Opus Dei priest who rebuffed the errors of The Da Vinci Code on his blog, described both The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons as "a comedy of errors."

"Dan Brown slips on some doctrinal, historical or artistic banana peel on almost every page," said Wauck, according to The National Catholic Register. "He gets things wrong – and never in a way that favors the Church – about the Eucharist, moral teachings, Copernicus, Galileo, the Devil's Advocate, art and architecture ... the list is endless."

Speaking Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Wauck commented on the ban to film the movie inside the churches.

"It would be a bit like someone coming up to you and saying, we're going to make a movie that presents your family as evil and ridiculous. Can we film in your house?"

In the two scenes producers wanted to shoot inside the churches, a cardinal is buried alive while another is burned.

Directed by Ron Howard, the Sony production is scheduled for release in May 2009 if filming and production goes as planned.