Paul McCartney: John Spellman
Gary Susman
November 15, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

AIR FARE You wouldn’t blame Paul McCartney if he decided to stop flying. He had been on the runway at New York’s JFK Airport on Sept. 11, waiting to take off, when he says he saw the hijacked planes crash into the World Trade Center 15 miles away. Yesterday, he was aboard a Concorde that landed at JFK just after the crash in a nearby Queens neighborhood of a jetliner that had taken off from JFK minutes earlier. ”I looked out of the left-hand side of the plane and there was smoke all over the place,” he said. ”It was a horrendous and tragic irony trying to raise money for the victims of the last crashes and then something dreadful was happening all over again.” McCartney had returned to the city to give radio interviews promoting his terror-relief benefit single ”Freedom,” and he said he would not be deterred by the latest disaster. ”That is why I wrote ‘Freedom’ and that is why I am going to keep pushing it. I will not stop,” he said. ”We have got to get behind America. We have got to help America.”…

R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck probably isn’t too eager to fly these days either, but he had to go to London to stand trial for an alleged air-rage incident in April on a flight from Seattle to London. As the trial began yesterday, Buck pleaded not guilty to charges of being drunk aboard the plane, assaulting the crew, and damaging property. The prosecutor, however, described Buck and Robert Whittaker, his tour manager, as behaving like ”naughty children,” claiming that they started drinking shortly after boarding the first-class cabin and becoming hostile when the crew stopped serving alcohol. After Buck’s attempt at bribery failed to procure a 16th glass of wine, the prosecutor said, Buck choked a steward with the man’s own tie, knocked over a food cart, and tore up a yellow card of warning issued by the pilot. He also supposedly got stuck between seats and covered himself and a flight attendant with yogurt. The trial continues Thursday.

REEL DEALS There will soon be one more pretty face before the camera in North Carolina, and it’s not those ”Dawson’s Creek” kids. Producer Sydney Pollack confirmed yesterday that Tom Cruise will star in ”Cold Mountain,” the adaptation of Charles Frazier‘s best-selling Civil War novel. The project marks Pollack’s third feature with Cruise; he directed Cruise in ”The Firm” and acted alongside him in ”Eyes Wide Shut.” This time, Anthony Minghella (”The English Patient”) will direct. Pollack said his crew is scouting locations in North Carolina and Canada for a June shoot (pushed back from February). It’s not clear if busy Renee Zellweger, who’d been in talks to play the female lead, will reunite with her ”Jerry Maguire” costar….

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just send Rambo over to Afghanistan to kick some Tali-butt and capture Osama bin Laden? London’s Sunday Times claimed that 55-year-old Sylvester Stallone was writing a fourth installment of the series in which his character would do just that. (In the third installment, back in 1988, Rambo did go to Afghanistan, fighting the Soviets alongside the U.S.-trained forces we are now fighting against.) Stallone’s publicist, however, says that the report is false. ”Sylvester Stallone has an idea for a new Rambo movie,” the spokesman said. ”But he hasn’t written it yet.” The current holders of the franchise rights, who’ve said they’d love to do a fourth film, are Miramax, of all people. Guess that means Stallone had better write a part for Gwyneth Paltrow….

It’ll be three generations of Douglases on screen, as Michael Douglas prepares to work with father Kirk for the first time (and possibly with son Cameron) in ”Smack in the Puss.” The story is a dysfunctional family comedy about three generations of New Yorkers. ”A lot of this came out of September 11, which has made everyone question their life priorities,” Michael Douglas told Variety. ”I realized this [screenplay] offered the perfect chance to finally do a picture with my father… Dad and I could never decide on one to do together before, though we came close a couple of times. He is pretty picky and so am I. We’ve found a lovely script that’s not simply us venting our demons.” The writer is rising scenarist Jesse Witugow, who has also adapted Arthur Miller‘s play ”The Ride Down Mount Morgan” as a film for Michael Douglas to star in, and who has also written ”Seared” for director David Fincher and doctored the script for Eminem‘s autobiographical film. The Douglases hope to begin shooting ”Smack” in February. Fred Schepisi (”Roxanne,” ”Fierce Creatures”) is in talks to direct.

”Double Take” star Orlando Jones is in talks to star in ”Drumline,” a fish-out-of-water comedy about a Harlem street drummer in a marching band at a black Southern college. Jones would play the band’s musical director. Shooting begins next month in Atlanta.

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