Published on: March 6, 2002

"A Beautiful Mind" star Russell Crowe caused an ugly scene when he became enraged after part of his British "Oscars" acceptance speech was cut from a broadcast -- and he squared off against a mild-mannered TV exec!

Crowe had spouted the poem "Sanctity" while accepting his BAFTA Best Actor award for "A Beautiful Mind" in London on February 24, but when a tape of the ceremony was televised a few hours later, the short poem wound up on the cutting room floor instead of on the air.

While celebrating at a post-awards party, the actor found out about the deletion. Furious, he ordered his two bodyguards to "escort" the show's executive producer, bespectacled Malcolm Gerrie, to a hotel storage room for a private performance in which Crowe played the role of bully.

The "Gladiator" hero, 37, slammed 51-year-old Gerrie against a wall, stuck his finger in his chest and bellowed: "Who on earth had the f---ing audacity to take out the poem? You f---ing piece of s--t -- I'll make sure you never work in Hollywood!"

Then -- after calling terrified Gerrie a "motherf---er" and kicking three chairs across the room -- cranky Crowe stormed out.

When hotel managers suggested calling police, Gerrie declined, but a pal confided: "Malcolm thought he was going to get belted.

"He was very shaken."