We know who Oscar-winning producer-director Mel Gibson won't be casting as Alexander the Great in HBO's upcoming $120 million, 10-part epic miniseries: Gibson's Patriot co-star Heath Ledger. The young actor has just been tapped to star in Oliver Stone's dueling big-screen biopic, Alexander. So, who is on Gibson's short list to play the legendary Macedonian conqueror?

"I don't want to say anything," Gibson hedges to TV Guide Online. "C'mon, I've got to make a deal!" The Aussie actor — who's producing the project for the pay cabler under his Icon Productions shingle — concedes that, "It's a hard role to cast. He's got to be really good."

Well, Mr. Braveheart better hurry up: In addition to Stone's pic, there are two other Alexander features in the works — including one teaming director Martin Scorsese with matinee idol Leonardo DiCaprio. For his part, Gibson isn't worried about the competish. "HBO actually came up with the best format for it, which is 10 hours, because it's such a huge [story]," he says. "I mean, people are trying to do it in two hours, but you can't."

He's confident that HBO — which will premiere Alexander the Great in 2004 — will do the sweeping saga justice, citing Band of Brothers as a prime example. "The quality of their specialty programs is getting a lot better," says the self-proclaimed history buff. "They spend some dough to make it look good."

Paramount also spent a fair amount of cash on Gibson's latest project, the brutal Vietnam drama We Were Soldiers (opening Friday). How will this Vietnam tale differ from those that preceded it? "It's less cynical," asserts the thesp, who portrays real-life Lieutenant General Harold G. Moore. "It doesn't view the conflict from a very cynical place like the others. There's no drug-taking, baby-killing... It was true to the experience of those guys who were there."