"Titanic" Crew's Lobster Chowder Spiked with PCP

Police say someone tried to sabotage the big-budget feature

By Marcus Errico Aug 29, 1996 11:00 PMTags
Forget icebergs, it was soup that doomed the Titanic. The movie version, that is. Earlier this month, the outbreak of a mystery illness crippled the set of James Cameron's big-budget film about the ill-fated ocean liner. After a meal on August 9, about 80 members of the Titanic crew got sick; many were hospitalized, complaining of hallucinations.

Authorities initially suspected food poisoning--but not like this. Someone apparently spiked the lobster chowder with PCP , Canadian police announced Thursday. "Testing revealed some of the meal contained the drug phencyclidine [PCP]," said Constable Gary Martin of the Halifax Police Department. "Further tests will be conducted with other foods that were served at the meal." None of the movie's cast--including stars Kate Winslet and Bill Paxton--ate the PCP-laced chowder.

There are no suspects at this time, Martin said. Investigators will question crew members to try and figure out who spiked the lobster with PCP, also called angel dust. A spokesman for 20th Century Fox--which is coproducing the film with Paramount--said the announcement surprised the studio. "We were shocked and disturbed to learn of these results and are hopeful that the police investigation will bring those responsible to justice," said Jeffrey Godsick, senior vice president of publicity for Fox.

The movie, which is set to hit screens next summer, spent part of August filming in Nova Scotia before shipping off to Mexico. On its maiden voyage in 1912, the supposedly unsinkable Titanic struck an iceberg and sank off Newfoundland, killing 1,500 of the 2,200 aboard.