Director Ron Howard claimed today that the Vatican interfered with efforts to get permits to shoot certain scenes of his Angels & Demons religious thriller in Rome—a charge the Vatican said was purely a publicity stunt. "It was explained to us that through back channels and so forth that the Vatican had exerted some influence," Howard said. The Vatican refused to comment on Howard's allegations.
Howard said he hadn't sought cooperation from the Vatican based on the opposition he encountered filming The Da Vinci Code, another Dan Brown novel that angered many Catholic leaders. Angels & Demons combines an ancient secret brotherhood called the Illuminati, a papal conclave and a high-tech weapon threatening to destroy the Vatican. The Tom Hanks vehicle premieres tomorrow in Rome.