Flashes: September 11, 1998 -- Brian De Palma, Steven Spielberg, and Mel Gibson made headlines this week

Truth or Scare
In the ’70s and ’80s, director Brian De Palma made audiences afraid, very afraid, with films like Sisters, Carrie, and Dressed to Kill. Today, the onetime horror master says this about the genre’s return with such films as Scream: ”I think a lot of fun has gone out of it,” says De Palma. ”It’s postmodernism — they’re commenting on the form while doing it. But boy, they didn’t have the fun we had.” The Snake Eyes director blames a more conservative ratings board for taking the thrills out of the chillers. ”You can’t get away with the [same] kind of sexuality or violence.” Is he worried, then, about UA’s upcoming Carrie II, a sequel to his 1976 version of the Stephen King novel that will star Emily Bergl in her film debut? ”A good friend, Amy Irving [who costarred in Carrie], is in it,” he notes, ”so I guess it’s gonna be fine.” Still, De Palma sounds hesitant. ”It doesn’t seem like a sequel. Hopefully, they’ll remember the original.” Like anyone could forget that hand emerging from the grave. — Daniel Fierman

You’re Eire’d
One way to make D-Day look authentic on film: Hire a real army. Steven Spielberg did. The extras filling up the battle sequences in Saving Private Ryan are servicemen in the Irish Department of Defense. And some soldiers are not only combat veterans but filmmaking ones, too. Mel Gibson used Irish infantry to swell the kilted ranks in 1995’s Braveheart. Unable to ”make an arrangement with the British army, we looked elsewhere,” says Ryan producer Ian Bryce. ”And [our] associate producer Kevin De La Noy had made the deal on Braveheart.” The army was happy to comply. ”We have a policy of supporting the film industry because it promotes local industry,” says Brendan Coghlan, an officer in Ireland’s Department of Defense. Good thing, because these aren’t soldiers of fortune. The men, says Coghlan, received their usual salary: only about 45 [punts] (roughly $75) per day. — Tricia Laine and Shirliey Fung

And the Emmy goes to…the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for increasing its cool quotient. Sept. 13’s telecast will include hip presenters from The WB (Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Van Der Beek, and Katie Holmes) and UPN (Brandy). ”We’re trying to balance between veterans and the new generation,” says an Emmy rep. The WB, for one, is thrilled, says publicist Janine Jones. ”We’re no longer the black sheep.” — Shawna Malcom