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ROLE CALL: Tom Cruise, the War Hero?

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Mar 19, 2001 | 11:50am EST

Is Tom Cruise looking for his own "Private Ryan"?

The megastar, currently courting Oscar talk with a supporting turn in "Magnolia," is reportedly mulling a starring role in "Fertig," a battle flick based on the true-life experiences of a World War II hero named, um, Wendell Fertig.

According to today's Daily Variety, the "Fertig" script by William Nicholson ("Nell") caught Cruise's eye several weeks ago. While the actor personally has never engaged in armed combat, he did make an Oliver Stone movie ("Born on the Fourth of July"), which is kinda the same thing. Fertig, meanwhile, is no stranger to the spotlight himself. He was the subject of the 1963 nonfiction book "They Fought Alone" by John Keats.

CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION: Columbia Pictures execs are hoping John Travolta will agree to star in "Travel Agent," a newly scripted movie about a man who travels in time to thwart an assassination. Travolta is in arrears to Columbia: He owes the studio a movie for backing out of Roman Polanski's never-completed "The Double" in 1996. According to Variety, director Andy Davis ("The Fugitive") is interested in making "Travel Agent," and a screenplay has already been completed by Gregory Hansen ("Heart and Souls").

Travolta had planned to fulfill his debt by starring in a film called "The Shipping News" with wife Kelly Preston, but he dropped out of that project, too (as did Preston).

OH NO, ANOTHER MOB MOVIE: Count Mel Gibson as the latest Hollywood type to succumb to the (onscreen) allure of the mob. Gibson and partner Bruce Davey, of the star's Icon Pictures, have snapped up the screen rights to a new Mafia novel by two former NYPD cops, Variety says. "Lady Gold" tells the story of an undercover female cop who is assigned to guard a mobster turned police informant.

Gibson, who recently finished starring in "The Patriot" for director Roland Emmerich ("Godzilla"), is said to interested in directing the mob-cop flick.

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