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"Category 7: The End of the World."


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A 'Category 7' Storm Strikes CBS

By Jay Bobbin


Shannen Doherty

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - As if Earth hasn't been weatherbeaten enough lately, here comes "Category 7: The End of the World." Already in production when Hurricane Katrina struck the American South, CBS' four-hour sequel to last year's "Category 6: Day of Destruction" begins Sunday, Nov. 6 and, in an unusual scheduling move, ends the following Sunday.

Randy Quaid reprises his role from the earlier drama as storm chaser Tornado Tommy, who joins a scientist (Shannen Doherty) to determine why the "Category 6" crisis has continued to grow ... and how it can be stopped as it zeroes in on Washington, D.C.

Also in the large cast: Gina Gershon ("Bound") and Robert Wagner as the new director of FEMA -- the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- and her politician father; Tom Skerritt ("Picket Fences") and Adam Rodriguez ("CSI: Miami") as military pilots who watch the storm from above it; and James Brolin and Swoosie Kurtz ("Sisters") as televangelists who exploit the public's fears by warning of an imminent Armageddon. Kenneth Welsh, who also faced environmental peril as the vice president in the 2004 movie "The Day After Tomorrow," is among the co-stars.

Many of the scientific facts offered by "Category 7" are relayed by Doherty's character. "She has created a rocket that she sends up to read how strong the storm is, what direction it's headed in, all that stuff," the "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Charmed" alumna explains. "She's an incredibly smart girl, and she definitely puts herself in harm's way in order to try to save people, along with Randy Quaid's character. She's a little bit in your face, sort of raw, which is what I really liked about her."

Doherty also liked working with Quaid, since their "Category 7" alter egos ultimately connect personally as well as professionally. "The height difference alone made it interesting," she says with a broad laugh. "We had a scene where we had to kiss, and it was like, 'Wow! How do I get up there?' I think he leaned down as far as he could, but I might have been standing on a box. Actually, I think he picked me up very gruffly and pulled me up to him.

"What's really interesting is that when these two characters come together, it works," Doherty adds. "Randy and I got along really well, although it was a short stint for both of us. They'd bring in each group of actors for two or three weeks, shoot their stuff and then let them go. I met Gina, but I didn't get to work with her. She arrived on my last day of filming."

Gershon did much of her work with Wagner, whose disaster-movie credits also include the 1953 version of "Titanic" and producer Irwin Allen's 1974 epic "The Towering Inferno." While he didn't face Hurricane Katrina firsthand, Wagner came close. "I was doing another movie that [singer] Jimmy Buffett is producing," the veteran actor reports, "and we were shooting in Fort Lauderdale. I got out of there the week before the hurricane hit there. They had to shut down the production."

Some may question "Category 7" airing in such close proximity to actual disasters, but CBS had the dates set well before Hurricane Katrina was literally on the radar. "This was all written before Katrina hit," Wagner notes. "It's a fictional situation." It also maintains the screen tradition of a star-packed cast threatened by a shared crisis, and as Wagner says from experience, "It seems to work pretty well."


Paris takes a hit

The CGI, or computer-generated imagery, used heavily in "Category 7" didn't exist when the skyscraper-on-fire scenario of "The Towering Inferno" placed Wagner and co-star Susan Flannery, among others, amid heavy smoke. "Nobody got hurt on that film, which is pretty amazing," Wagner reflects. "Nobody did that kind of movie better than Irwin; he had the whole genre in his pocket. If you care about the characters and put them in a disaster situation, you've got something going."

Doherty believes "Category 7" achieves a similar effect, thanks largely to its depiction of the storm. "Your car's moving superfast, you have to land on a certain mark, you jump out, and there's three huge jet-engine fans blowing straight at you. I could barely stand. The fans were almost blowing me down the street, and you can actually see it. My legs are set wide apart and I'm braced, because I can't possibly stay in one spot."

Familiar with special-effects work from her early tenure on the WB Network series "Charmed," Doherty stresses her sympathy for victims of true climatic disasters of late. Some of her own relatives in Gulfport, Miss., were affected by Hurricane Katrina. "My mom had gone there to visit her father, who was in the hospital for a stroke. They all had to evacuate, and my dad and I were sitting in Los Angeles, extremely concerned.

"All I can say is that even after experiencing Katrina, my grandparents are looking forward to this . They're like, 'Let's see how accurate this thing is.'"

* * * * * * * * * * *

From New York Metro.com

Oh, How It Blows

Category 7 is a gale-force disaster: a damp mix of hot scientists, limp dialogue, and Shannen Doherty.

By John Leonard

Ten minutes into lousy weather in the nation

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