‘Sabotage’ director discusses Atlanta, Ah-nold

You’ll see a lot of Atlanta in “Sabotage,” the new crime thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger that was filmed and set here. You’ll also see a lot of shootouts, explosions, car crashes and … how to put this delicately? Innards.

But back to Atlanta. The movie, coming out Friday and also starring Sam Worthington, Joe Manganiello, Mireille Enos, Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard and Atlanta’s own Catherine Dyer, filmed at locations including Lake Lanier, downtown, an area gentleman’s club and at the old Atlanta Prison Farm site.

“It’s such a great city to shoot in,” director David Ayer, known for “End of Watch” and the original movie in the “Fast & Furious” series. “I really wanted it to feel like Atlanta.”

Schwarzenegger plays the head of a high-octane DEA unit whose members seem to enjoy booze and strippers as much as they do taking down bad guys. The action starts immediately, as the unit moves in for a huge drug bust. Their takedown is a little too successful, setting the stage for gory retribution. The complexities of Schwarzenegger’s character are revealed as the body count rises.

“Arnold’s known for these straightforward, black-and-white characters who’s knocking bad guys down like bowling pins,” Ayer said. “Here he has shades of gray.”

Working with his star was a bit daunting.

“When I first met him, I almost wanted to ask for his autograph,” Ayer joked. “He works really hard, and he works really hard at making people feel comfortable.”

No one stays comfortable for long in the movie, though.

Trees Atlanta celebrates milestone

When spring weather finally gets here and you’re enjoying Atlanta’s verdant parks and neighborhoods, remember Trees Atlanta. The local nonprofit organization, established in 1985, has planted and distributed trees in more than 100 neighborhoods. At Thursday night’s aptly named Root Ball Gala, presented by the Southeast Permanente Medical Group, supporters will celebrate contributing 100,000 trees to the city.

“Trees Atlanta doesn’t just plant trees; we plant communities,” said spokeswoman Bethany Clark. “This milestone belongs to all of us. These 100,000 trees help to improve our air quality, clean stormwater, enrich habitat for wildlife, prevent soil erosion, and enhance quality of life in our communities. Trees are among Atlanta’s most valuable citizens.”

The gala, held at Piedmont Park’s Greystone events facility, will kick off with the ceremonial planting of a white oak. Dignitaries digging in the dirt will include Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Southeast Permanente Medical Group executive medical director and Trees Atlanta board chairman Dr. Rob Schreiner, Trees Atlanta co-executive directors Connie Veates and Greg Levine, Piedmont Park Conservancy interim executive director Debbie McCown, 90.1 FM/WABE chief operating officer John Weatherford, longtime Trees Atlanta volunteer Lawrence Richardson, UPS Foundation Vice President Frank Romeo, Atlanta parks and recreation department Commissioner George Dusenbury and Root Ball co-chairs Susie Soper and Mary Logan Barmeyer.

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