May 14, 1998
Recalling the Danish’Miracle’
John Davis has produced such blockbusters as "TheFirm," "Courage Under Fire," "The Chamber" and the upcoming "Dr.Dolittle."
But "Miracle at Midnight," a much more modest TVmovie that airs Sunday night on ABC's "The Wonderful World ofDisney," has taken him a decade to bring to the small screen. Ittells the true story of the rescue of the Danish Jews during WorldWar II, when the Christian population united in a mere 48 hours towhisk the Jews away from the Nazis.
From left, Justin Whalin, Mia Farrow, SamWatersot and Nicola Mycroftas the Koster family in "Miracle atMidnight.
In 1943, the Nazis secretly planned to arrest theDanish Jews at midnight on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. But the news wasleaked, and the entire citizenry mobilized to hide Jewish friends andneighbors until they could be spirited by boat to Sweden.
The movie focuses on the true story of Karl Koster(Sam Waterston), a chief surgeon who hid myriad Jews at ChristiannaHospital before the boatlift.
For Davis, who grew up in a Jewish home inColorado, "Miracle at Midnight" is a family story. He first learnedof the rescue from his Danish-born father-in-law, George Hubner, whowas a teen-ager at the time of the operation. His parents hid aJewish family in their attic in the fall of 1943.
Davis was captivated. "When I learned that theDanes saved an unprecedented 96 percent of their Jews, I knew I hadto tell the story," he says.
The producer's road wasn't easy. NBC deemed thefilm noncommercial and shelved it. Later, Disney's Michael Eisner sawthe importance of the project and green-lit the movie.
Actress Mia Farrow (Doris Koster) was so moved bythe story that she agreed to accept the role, her first televisionpart in more than 30 years.
And Waterston (he's the prosecutor on NBC's "Law& Order") participated, in part, he told The Journal, because ofhis personal ties to the subject.
His father, the Oxford-educated theater directorGeorge Chychele Waterston, worked intelligence for the R.A.F. duringWorld War II. And Sam Waterston, while a student at Groton, wasimpressed by his French and German teacher, a cultivated Europeangentleman who was a refugee from the Nazis. "He didn't tell luridstories, but he emanated this terrific sense of loss," saysWaterston, who has made a career playing ethically challengedcharacters in films such as "The Killing Fields" and Woody Allen's"Crimes and Misdemeanors."
In Allen's movie, he portrays a blind rabbi, themoral voice of the film. The character is a contrast to the righteousKoster, however.
"Karl Koster represents a large portion of theDanish population, while the rabbi was a lonely voice in an[unethical] universe," Waterston says.
"Miracle at Midnight" airs May 17, at 7 p.m.,on ABC.