'STORY'-EDITING We can't say we were shocked when word leaked out that Todd Solondz clashed with the MPAA over a violent sex scene in his new movie, ''Storytelling.'' After all, the ''Happiness'' director has already explored such cheery themes as stalking, dismemberment, and pedophilia. (In the end, he digitally added a red box to cover actors Robert Wisdom and Selma Blair during the near rape.) What did pique our interest was what he decided to cut altogether: complete story lines and entire performances, including James Van Der Beek's, which involved a graphic gay-sex scene. So what happened?
''You write the script and think it's about X, you shoot it and you think it's about Y, and then you go into the editing room and it turns into Z,'' explains Solondz. ''It happens to me with every movie.'' Van Der Beek declined to comment on being axed from the film, but Blair says that the actors were unaware that severe edits were a possibility. ''I think Todd just hangs the moon, but we had no idea. I had a much bigger part, people had amazing performances cut completely: Van Der Beek. Emmanuelle Chriqui. Adam Hann-Byrd'' -- not to mention ''Welcome to the Dollhouse'' star Heather Matarazzo. ''It must have been heartbreaking to cast them aside.''
Of course, Blair may have more to worry about than a truncated role. ''My mom is a big Solondz fan, she's seen 'Happiness' like, seven times. So anything to make my mom happy. But, I think, uh, she may just cringe when she sees [the sex scene].'' Maybe we could get her a red blindfold.