SOAP BOX ''The Patriot'''s reinvention of the American Revolution has angered yet another viewer. Spike Lee sounded off about the Mel Gibson film in a letter to the Hollywood Reporter yesterday. After watching the movie with his wife, Lee says they walked out of the theater ''fuming.'' '''The Patriot' is pure, blatant American Hollywood propaganda. A complete whitewashing of history, revisionist history. While holding myself back from shouting at the screen, I kept wondering, Where are the slaves? Who's picking the cotton?'' he writes. (Didn't Spike hear? Sally Field was cast for the cottonpicking role, but she later dropped out.)
CASTING Liam Neeson is in final talks to join the cast of Martin Scorsese's $100 million period flick ''Gangs of New York,'' according to the Hollywood Reporter. Neeson said at the Taormina Film Festival that he was ''pretty sure'' he will be playing the father of Leonardo DiCaprio.... Zooey Deschanel has picked up the role ''Dawson's Creek'''s Katie Holmes had been negotiating for in the Disney ensemble comedy ''Big Trouble.''
REPOSITIONING Britain's Academy of Film and Television Arts is changing the timing of its awards ceremony in the hopes of assuming a Golden Globe-like role in the run-up to the Oscar selection process. The ceremony, which used to take place after the Academy Awards, is scheduled for Feb. 25, one month before the Hollywood event. ''The decision places the event in a pivotal role during the pre-Oscars lobbying process,'' said BAFTA chairman Simon Relph. Right-o.
CAMEO 'N Sync's Lance Bass caused a stir when he appeared for 26 seconds at the Fun Fourth Festival in Greensboro, N.C. A throng of girls rushed the stage as Bass introduced his childhood friend, country singer Meredith Edwards, waved to the crowd, and disappeared in a flash. ''I think I saw the back of his head!'' squealed one intoxicated observer. God forbid the frenzy a profile might have induced.
OASISLAND Oddly enough (and by that, we mean not oddly at all), the Gallagher brothers are at it again. In an interview with Britain's Q magazine, Liam, the lone brother on the current Oasis tour, explains the row that led to his brother's abrupt departure in May. ''I have a lager and he has a lager, and he can drink more than me. And things were said,'' the singer explains in the August issue. ''We had a little scrap and he got his ball and ran home.'' No, man, HE started it.
COURTS A Manhattan judge set the trial date of Sept. 6 for Dana Giacchetto who is accused of fraud and misappropriation of some $9 mil belonging to Hollywood celebs. (Giacchetto maintains his innocence.) The defendant's investment fund, the Cassandra Group, is expected to file for bankruptcy later this week.
OBIT Michael ''Cub'' Koda singer/ guitarist for the '70s group Brownsville Station, died of complications from kidney failure. Koda was the author of the band's biggest tune, ''Smokin' in the Boys Room,'' which sold 2 million copies in 1973, and was later revived by Motley Crüe. He was 51.