Newsmakers

Forget the 'Alamo'?

John Lee Hancock should know better. Surely the Waco-born director of "The Rookie" has seen the T shirts that read DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS. But last week Hancock--to whom Disney has entrusted "The Alamo," its retelling of Texas's proudest hour--pulled his film out of contention for the Oscars; he'll now open it in April. He says he needs more time. But Hollywood types say they know what that means--trouble. Disney's spinners insist everything is OK, but it's too late: consider Texas messed with.

Hancock says he knew this would spark bad buzz, but believed "the time crunch was dictating where the movie was headed. I didn't make this to win awards. I made it because it's a story that's important to me, and I want to get it right. I owe it to Texas." But now Disney's without a horse in this year's Oscar race--and has to watch the titans who'd initially signed on for "The Alamo," Russell Crowe and Ron Howard, release the films they made instead, "Master and Commander" and "The Missing." Disney lost them after balking at a $120 million budget and an R rating, then gloated over saving $40 million with Hancock, Dennis Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton. But a source familiar with the project says overruns pushed the budget past $100 million anyway. And the three-hour first cut, says the source, is "like watching a history lesson." The sad thing is, in a nasty industry, Hancock is universally liked. No matter how "The Alamo" turns out, let's hope someone remembers that.

Q&A: Jason Priestley

A year after his near-lethal auto-racing accident, Jason Priestley got back in the game last weekend, playing a gigolo-detective in the campy drag movie "Die Mommie Die!" NEWSWEEK's Sean Smith caught up with the 34-year-old former "Beverly Hills 90210" hunk after a bracing round of celebrity golf.

How's your recovery?

My back is really good, and my brain started working again, so I'm happy about that. This was concussion No. 14 for me, and I got scrambled pretty good. But I've never been the brightest bulb in the box [laughs].

You've been quite the daredevil over the years. A boat collision in April 2002--

Hey, those guys drove into me. Come on!

You totaled your Porsche in '99.

That one was my fault [laughs].

Bungee jumping, ice hockey--point is, we're not getting any younger.

As you're very kind to mention [laughs]. Am I moving away from it? I'm not sure. I've been racing cars since I was 21 years old, and I miss it. When you're at the edge of your abilities and really pushing yourself, that's living life. I love that. But I won't race at that level again.

You're developing a new show for Fox. So you're ready to get back on TV?

I'm really excited. I'm not one of those actors who pooh-poohs television. I look back on "90210" with nothing but fond memories.

Do you watch "The O.C."?

I watched one episode. It's kind of like our show [laughs]. A little guilty pleasure, man. You've gotta have it.

In "Die Mommie Die!" you play a detective who sleeps with a drag queen, her daughter and her son. Is there anyone he won't shag?

He's sort of omnisexual, but he's doing it for the right reasons.

Such as?

You know, the quest for truth.

Of course. He's also very well equipped for his job. Funny, for years there's been a rumor that you are, too.

Yes, there has [laughs]. And that's a top-10 list I'm happy to be on.