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Rudy, Arnie Face Their Vocal Critics

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The love affair between New York City and its former mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, was showing some strain Wednesday, when fire and police union officials expressed their disdain for the ex-politico’s planned appearance at a screening of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new movie, “Collateral Damage.” The movie, which opens Friday and is being released by Warner Bros. (which, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner), stars the action star, 54, as a Los Angeles firefighter out to take revenge against some Colombian terrorists who were responsible for an explosion that killed his family. Some groups already have attacked the film for what they say is a stereotypical portrayal of Colombians. Originally scheduled for release last October, the opening date was put on hold in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Although test audiences reportedly seemed to be able to tolerate the story line, some feel the wounds of Sept. 11 have yet to heal enough to justify releasing the movie. “It saddens us any time a tragedy is used to promote anything like a movie,” Peter Gorman, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, told the Associated Press. Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said, “We consider it exploitative and in bad taste to promote the film by associating it with the tragedy of Sept. 11.” Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel responded that Schwarzenegger has been an active participant in post-Sept. 11 charity work, donating $1 million to the Twin Towers Fund and helping raise another $4 million, becoming a member of its board, and visiting firehouses and police precincts. The fund, which Giuliani established when he was mayor to benefit families of firefighters, police and rescue workers who were killed at the World Trade Center, was given tickets to the screening, and Giuliani was invited as a guest, the AP reported. Mindel said the former mayor would “publicly acknowledge and thank Arnold Schwarzenegger for his unwavering support in the aftermath of Sept. 11.”