By Stephen M. Silverman
April 30, 2003 01:00 PM

The World Health Organization lifted the travel advisory against Toronto on Wednesday, because no new cases of SARS — Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome — have been reported there in the past three weeks.

Still, reports the Toronto Star, that didn’t occur in time to prevent Miramax from shifting the location of its new movie “Shall We Dance,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere, from Toronto to Winnipeg. Shooting is to begin this summer and would have meant 100 jobs in Toronto as well as an infusion of spending at hotels, restaurants and shops.

“It is not necessarily because of SARS,” Paul Pflug, executive vice president of media relations for Miramax, said of the move. “Many aspects of Winnipeg worked for the production. It is a mystery and is set in contemporary Chicago.”

A skeptical Star says it’s a mystery how Winnipeg can look like Chicago, and points out that the Best Picture Oscar winner “Chicago” was, in fact, shot in Toronto. It also starred Gere.

But the paper blames a reputedly SARS-phobic J.Lo for demanding the move to Winnipeg, at least according to what Star had heard. Pflug denies the claim.

“I would never speak on an actor’s behalf,” Pflug responded, “but I had never heard that. Someone has just taken advantage of her celebrity.”

Still, the paper, clearly proud of its city, does go on to claim that Halle Berry has threatened to quit the upcoming “Catwoman” should it be shot in Toronto.

There has been no public comment from Berry.