IT’S WAR! Mel Gibson just can’t seem to stop getting the British in a snit. First the Australian star spearheaded the Oscar-winning ”Braveheart,” in which he portrayed a champion of Scottish independence. Now his new movie is under fire from U.K. pundits. In ”The Patriot,” the Revolutionary war saga set to open June 28, Gibson plays a South Carolina farmer who takes up arms after a British army officer murders his son. London’s Daily Express complained that ”the movie’s baddies are, as usual, the treacherous, cowardly, evil, sadistic Brits,” while the Times called it ”a 160-minute polemic against the British.” Historians have also rapped the movie, saying that it paints a simplistic and slanted picture of the war. A spokesman for the film’s distributor, Sony Pictures, responded to criticisms, saying, ”We love those Brits, but maybe they’re still smarting from the outcome of that war. ”The Patriot” is directed by ”Independence Day”’s Roland Emmerich — and space aliens are probably still ticked off about that one.
SCOTCHED Gibson isn’t the only faux Scot who’s being bashed. Kelsey Grammer, whose Broadway revival of Shakespeare’s ”Macbeth” was clobbered by critics when it opened last week, found out yesterday that the show will close Sunday — five weeks ahead of schedule. The star of NBC’s ”Frasier” reportedly put up his own money to cover any potential losses, which are now estimated at $1.5 million. ”Macbeth,” a spooky, violent tragedy about an over-ambitious military man’s quest for the Scottish throne, is the subject of superstition among theater professionals, who consider it an unlucky play to stage.
MISHAP Harrison Ford‘s plane had a rough landing Sunday in Lincoln, Nebraska. The ”Air Force One” star was piloting a six-passenger Beechcraft Bonanza when he ran into wind shear. Neither the actor nor his unidentified passenger was injured, although the plane’s wing tips sustained minor damage. Ford did not comment on the incident, which the FAA is investigating.
SEQUELS A much-rumored second sequel to 1984’s ”Terminator” may be one step closer to reality. Arnold Schwarzenegger tells tonight’s Access Hollywood that he wants to return to his signature role — as long as ”Terminator” and ”T2” director James Cameron is in charge. ”A script is being written as we speak,” the actor says. ”It’s a film that Jim will definitely produce.” … Sam Neill faced off against digitally-created dinosaurs in ”Jurassic Park” (1993) but not in the movie’s sequel four years later. Now the Hollywood Reporter says the New Zealand-born actor may be on board for ”Jurassic Park 3”. The movie begins shooting this summer with Joe Johnston (”Honey, I Shrunk The Kids”) taking over the directing duties from Steven Spielberg.
TV CASTING ”Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker may have a familiar costar later this season: Her husband, Matthew Broderick, is in talks to join the cast of the HBO series… TNT has placed a 13-episode order for the drama series ”Breaking News,” executive produced by actor Ken Olin. Casting has yet to be announced…. Barbara Walters has spent 24 years at ABC, but the newswoman told TV Guide that she’s talking to CBS about job possibilities.
THE BIZ Vivendi, a French utility and media giant, has signed a deal to take over the Seagram Co., which owns Universal Studios and Universal Music Group. The stock-swap deal is worth about $34 billion. Universal’s next big movie release, ”The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,” opens June 30…. The proposed merger of America Online and Time Warner (the parent company of Entertainment Weekly Online) is on a four-month hold until the European Commission looks into the $125 billion deal.
HIGH NOTES It pays to honor Ray Charles. Ohio’s Wilberforce University celebrated the music legend last year with an honorary doctorate — and now Charles is returning the favor, donating $2 million to set up a scholarship fund for the school’s music, theater, and voice students, and to attract visiting artists to the campus.
LEGALESE Former Guns ‘n Roses singer Axl Rose has gotten some court ordered relief from a stalker. A California Superior court judge sentenced a 39-year-old Ohio woman to a year in jail after she violated her probation by trespassing on Rose’s property six times in four years…. A family court judge in New York has ordered Mick Jagger to reveal his financial worth. In March, the Rolling Stone acknowledged that he was the father of one year old Lucas Morad Jagger, and now the child’s mother, Luciana Morad, a 29 year old Brazilian model, is seeking $35,000 a month in child support payments…. Celebrity journalist Robin Leach may be a little less rich — but no less famous — after several states attorneys settled a lawsuit against him charging that the former TV host promoted bogus luxury vacations. Leach admitted no wrongdoing, but promised to look into future endorsements more carefully. Sometimes those champagne wishes and caviar dreams don’t come true.
RECOVERING Radio host Don Imus suffered five broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a broken collar bone, and a separated shoulder after being thrown from his horse. The accident occurred at Imus’ ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico…. A spokesman for Bob Hope says the 97-year-old entertainer is ”recovering quite well” after being hospitalized for gastrointestinal bleeding earlier this month. ”This a man who bounces back from things,” said a spokesman. Maybe when Hope is up and about, he could have a few choice words with Imus’ horse.