Half a year after his "JFK" opened in theaters, Oliver Stone still feels the heat.
The director behind "Platoon," "The Doors," "Wall Street" and "Born on the Fourth of July" was in Florida to receive the John M. Tiedtke Award for artistic achievement at last week's Florida Film Festival-Orlando, and to take his mother and 7-year-old son to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida.
In his red-and-white flowered shirt, the 46-year-old Purple Heart recipient looked a lot like any dad with a binge of theme parking ahead of him. Mr. Stone's wife of 11 years, Elizabeth, who was supposed to come along on the trip, became sick at the last minute.
But when talk turned to the press reaction to "JFK" (which was released on video two weeks ago) and the larger topic of the assassination of President Kennedy, the filmmaker exhibited a wounded intensity.
Mr. Stone used expressions like "scam" and "shell game" to describe the government's ongoing efforts to keep secret what he feels is the truth about the assassination. He said that if the Kennedy files reveal even a link between Lee Harvey Oswald and a U.S. intelligence agency, that would support his movie's thesis that Oswald did not act alone.
For Mr. Stone, the most encouraging thing (so far) to come out of "JFK" is that there's "a consciousness renewed in the country of the '60s anti-Establishment mold, that dissent is possible, that the government cannot be trusted." But the filmmaker doesn't feel that the current presidential race offers much hope that the general climate will improve greatly any time soon. Asked for his theory about who assassinated the Democratic Party, he took a beat to form his reply.
"Frankly, I couldn't care less, " he reflected, touching the cross hanging from his neck. (It once belonged to the Doors' Jim Morrison.) "The Democratic Party and the Republican Party to me are two wings of the same party." As for Ross Perot, Mr. Stone shrugged, "He sounds like a dictator to me."
Sometime in November, Mr. Stone expects that a longer (3-hour, 40-minute) video version of "JFK" will be released. And the movie's full script will be published this summer, complete with some 320 footnotes that may answer criticisms of the movie's accuracy.
As a producer, Mr. Stone's upcoming projects include "South Central," which he calls a "hard-hitting, realistic" drama about Los Angeles street gangs, and "Zebrahead," "a love story between a white, Jewish boy and a black teen-age girl in high school." Both probably will open this fall. "Wild Palms," an ABC-TV miniseries with Jim Belushi and Dana Delaney that Mr. Stone is executive producing, will begin shooting later this month.
"We're trying for a new look, sort of a 'Blade Runner' TV look, : :TC future look. . . . It sort of has an Orwellian theme -- a takeover of the mass consciousness."
In September, Mr. Stone plans to begin directing a $20-million feature film called "When Heaven and Earth Changed Places," a 30-year saga of an Asian woman whom Mr. Stone described as the Scarlett O'Hara of Vietnam.
"John Ford makes Westerns, I make Vietnamers," he said, explaining his continuing fascination with Vietnam, where part of the new film will be shot. "What were Westerns? They became a genre because people made them. There's no reason why we cannot find modern morality plays in Vietnam, because so much happened over there."