COSTNER BANKS SHOTS

It was late last year, and Kevin Costner's first directorial effort, Orion's Dances with Wolves, was still shooting in South Dakota, two weeks behind schedule and $2 million over its $16 million budget. Although the studio loudly professed its support of Costner, who was also acting in the period Western, the star made up the difference with $2 million of his own rather than ask Orion for more money to finish the project.

The cynical view was that the inexperienced Costner had fallen victim to the perils of first-time directing.

Costner believes the charge was unwarranted. "There were no excesses on this film, no limos, no jets," Costner says. "Every dollar in budget will be seen on the screen."

As to when Dances with Wolves will be seen, Costner, who's now editing it, said he expects a fall premiere.

IF THE SHOE FITS...

Cinderella is alive and well and going to Hollywood screenings—she's Uma (Dangerous Liaisons) Thurman.

Thurman and Judd (Relentless) Nelson—just a buddy, not a date—were leaving a screening of The Image, a made-for-HBO drama, when they were spotted by the paparazzi. It was raining hard, and the two young stars faced a clear choice: Stand in the rain and smile for the photographers or make a run for the limo. They ran, which was fine until Thurman, who next will be seen in the film comedy Where the Heart Is, ran right out of one of her shoes.

Now they had another choice: Stop and pick up the shoe or keep going. They kept going, made it to the limo and sped off. The shoe Thurman left behind, a black Thierry Mugler pump valued at $300 a pair, was picked up by actor Alexis Arquette (younger brother of Rosanna Arquette) and kept as a souvenir.

PROGRESS REPORT

Although they say it isn't so, the money guys at Paramount are rumored to be worried about mounting costs on The Godfather: The Continuing Story, the film that will extend director Francis Ford Coppola's Mafia saga. Coppola has been shooting the movie, with Al Pacino, Diane Keaton and Andy Garcia, in Rome since late November, and what was once a $30 million budget has now climbed, unofficially, to $50 million.

Some who have visited the closed set say the atmosphere is rather Orwellian, with Coppola as Big Brother. The director, always in the forefront of technological innovation, is on occasion actually directing the new movie from inside a video trailer, so that at least for part of the time, actors and crew communicate with him via his image on a big monitor on the set. Paramount denies this, saying Coppola is directing traditionally—in person.

BARGAIN THRILLER

Everybody loves a good bargain, and Michael Jackson is no exception. Recently the singer was spotted at the All-American Collectors Show and Sale, an antiques show in Glendale, Calif. Vintage items included gumball machines, antique toys and advertising memorabilia.

Jackson's reps deny it, but our sources say Jackson bought some toys and soda machines and that he appeared stunned when he asked one dealer if he could pay by check—and the dealer said no.