GOOD MORNING: Oliver Stone has taken over writing the final script of “Beyond Borders” before asking Kevin Costner and Meg Ryan for their final answer. Both have expressed interest, he allows, but he’ll delay asking the final question in total fairness to ’em for a pic that has “the scale of a David Lean movie.” He departs for Africa — Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Egypt — relief camps to recon. He says, “We are getting more cooperation than we ever dreamed” from orgs like the U.N., Save the Children, etc. “There was no ego,” he adds. The pic covers several years of the principals’ roles … In addition to “Borders,” Oliver has been working in overdrive on DVDs of all his pix. (WB will release a special DVD package of his films Nov. 21.) Stone credits Warren Lieberfarb, prez of WB Home Video, for this amazing package. It starts with explicit scenes that were excised from “Salvador,” when Stone says he didn’t have control. Also powerful scenes of Tom Cruise in “Born on the Fourth of July” will be included in that DVD. “I found most of the footage in my old storage boxes,” he reveals. He’s inserting “very sexy as well as very poignant” scenes between Al Pacino and Elizabeth Berkley in “Any Given Sunday.” He admits, “I cut some things wrong; I was so hurried to get it out.” He’s also replacing scenes between Tony Hopkins and Sam Waterston (CIA head) in “Nixon.” “I cut it (originally) and I regretted it.” The DVD of “Sunday” will precede the big package in early September. In addition to the out-takes there’ll be commentaries by Stone on the making of the films and the criticisms which followed … Stone also has his rebuttal in print: “Oliver Stone’s USA — Film, History, and Controversy” (University Press of Kansas.) His pix are critiqued in chapters like “Oliver Stone as Historian,” for films like “Born On the Fourth of July,” “Platoon,” “Salvador,” “Nixon,” etc. Stone’s replies to ’em all, including his continued insistence that all those who think the Kennedy assassination “was not a conspiracy are nuts.” He says he loves “that kind of academic debate” in the book. “But I don’t want to live in the past.” As for the future, I asked his feelings about the current crop of presidential candidates. He likes Jesse Ventura.
FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORKS came a little early — Tuesday night, to be exact — in a spectacular display at the post-preem party for “The Patriot.” I had just started talking with Mel Gibson when the first round of rockets filled the sky over Loews Century Plaza, drowning out further conversation. Gibson was, of course, surrounded by well-wishers complimenting his remarkable performance, dramatic as well as physical. The role required even more from Gibson than his own “Braveheart.” “But,” he smiled, “I didn’t have to direct this one.” It was Roland Emmerich who ably commanded the troops in “Patriot.” Columbia’s Gareth Wigan, who regularly visited the battlefield locations, marveled on Emmerich’s ability … Gibson pooh-pooh’d any problems from the British on the pic’s depiction of cruel royal officers. Gibson called it simply press palaver. As for engaging in battle again in the likes of “Patriot” or “Braveheart,” don’t count on Mel volunteering for active duty. As for the past stigma of U.S. Revolutionary pix, Wigan said the youth audience would go for “Patriot” and predicted that young Heath Ledger, who plays Gibson’s son Gabriel, would bring in the young market as well. Columbia’s high on Ledger, who is now starring in their 16th century actioner “A Knight’s Tale” for director Bruce Helgeland, filming around Prague … John Williams, who musicked “Patriot,” admitted to me he’d always wanted to compose for Mel Gibson. The feeling was mutual. Williams is now readying Steven Spielberg’s “A-I,” their 18th pic together. Williams has read the script and promises the music will be “mystical.” Among Hollywood toppers predicting big biz for “Patriot” were Joe Roth and Tom Sherak. P.S. They told me they also predict it for WB’s “The Perfect Storm” … Along Came Mary cooked up the appropriate supper for the American-themed pic: hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken, ice cream and cookies … Gibson covers the July issue of George mag in which Pearl Jam leader Eddie Vedder, “Angry Eddie,” endorses Ralph Nader for president. (Vedder has been registering voters at PJ concerts).
DEBBIE REYNOLDS BOWED OUT of receiving honors at the Deauville Fest’s movie musical tribute: She starts work on “Those Old Broads” with Shirley MacLaine and Elizabeth Taylor (a fourth to be set) after Labor Day. The ABC vidpic for Col-TriStar will be directed by Matthew Diamond, produced by Larry Mark from a script by Debbie’s daughter Carrie Fisher and Elaine Pope. Meanwhile, Debbie continues to work the hotel circuit with her one-woman show, heading out to Chi’s Drury Lane, Atlantic City, etc. Reynolds (68) spent Wednesday afternoon with daughter Billie (Lourd); they went bowling … “The Sopranos” Edie Falco brought her pooch Marley to the Regency Hotel’s second annual “Bark Breakfast” fundraiser for FIDO, kicking off Take Your Dog to Work Day. Loews allows pets in all their hotels, promising VIP service — Very Important Pets, that is.