Tricky Dicky to get a Stoning

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The Independent Online
Oliver Stone, enfant terrible of the cinema, is at it again. Howls of establishment indignation over Natural Born Killers have scarcely died than signs are emerging that his next project, about Richard Nixon, will cause another controversy.

Details of a draft script which emerged yesterday reveal that Stone intends to portray Nixon as even more sinister than he appeared to the outside world. Although the screenplay, the details of which were published in Time, reportedly includes a prologue admitting some scenes are "imagined", it also says the film is based on "numerous public sources" and "incomplete historical findings". It is unclear whether this applies to the plot's juicier-sounding elements, which include a suggestion that Nixon personally erased the missing 18-and-a-half minutes of the Watergate tapes.

Many of the more patriotically inclined Americans have yet to forgive Stone for JFK, about the Kennedy assassination; Nixon is unlikely to endear him any further. Time says the plot includes a suggestion that, as vice- president, Nixon organised a plan to assassinate Fidel Castro, known as "Track 2", to have been carried out by CIA agents, mobsters, Cubans and right-wing businessmen. Later, the script has the same group assassinating Kennedy on its own initiative, which obliquely ties Nixon in to the murder.

The film will also suggest J Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, knew of plans to kill Robert Kennedy, shot in 1968; that Alexander Haig, White House chief of staff, pressed Nixon into resigning because he had a pristine copy of the erased tape; and that the Watergate burglar Howard Hunt blackmailed the White House into paying him hush- money because of what he knew about "Track 2".

Anthony Hopkins has agreed to play Tricky Dicky, amid Hollywood mutterings that no American would have the guts.