Director Tim Burton, whose summer film “Superman Lives” is at least temporarily grounded, is in serious talks to make his next film “Sleepy Hollow,” an adaptation scripted by Andrew Kevin Walker of the Washington Irving horror tale. The project is based at Paramount and will be produced by Scott Rudin, sources said.

The film is described by sources as a live action romantic horror film that will be shot this fall in Tarrytown, and focus on the legend of Ichabod Crane, a professor whose wild theories get him discredited and exiled to an upstate New York hamlet where he happens on a myth come to life of a headless horseman who has taken the heads of four people trying to find one that fits him perfectly. Nobody believes the professor.

The script is by Walker, the scribe who turned out “Seven” for New Line and “8 Millimeter,” the Columbia film starring Nicolas Cage and Joaquin Phoenix that was directed by Joel Schumacher.

“Sleepy Hollow” is being eyed for a fall shoot, and it seems right in the wheelhouse of Burton, whose quirky mixes of comedy/drama/horror include “Edward Scissorhands,” “Beetlejuice,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Mars Attacks.” Burton is repped by William Morris’ Mike Simpson. Walker’s managed by Gavin Polone.

DENNIS TO MENACE MALONE: Days after he battled Utah Jazz forward Karl “Mailman” Malone to help his Chicago Bulls win the NBA title and his fifth career championship ring, Dennis Rodman has firmed two dates, one involving Malone and a ring, another involving a movie and a Ringo.

Confirming the worst-kept secret in showbiz, an announcement is expected this morning at Planet Hollywood for a pay-per-view event pitting Rodman in a tag team match with Hulk Hogan against Malone and Diamond Dallas Page. At the same time, Rodman has locked a deal with Sony to star in an untitled action film to be directed by Ringo Lam and Kevin Elders. The film will be produced by Dwight Manley, Moshe Diamant and Lam.

Essentially, Elders makes his directorial debut. Lam, whose Asian credits include “City on Fire,” directed “Maximum Risk.” In the film, Rodman will play a mercenary.

All this activity is an unexpected byproduct of the lockout by NBA owners, instituted over revenue sharing disputes with the players union, which jeopardizes the start of the next pro basketball season. Rodman is a free agent, and could do whatever he likes. But Eric Bischoff, president of the Ted Turner-owned grappling outfit WCW, hatched the Malone plan.

While the league would never have been happy about two of its preeminent superstars engaging in an activity that could cause injury, contracts are frozen, freeing Malone to do as he pleases. And they’ve got sizable disability insurance policies along with big paychecks if the pay-per-view sells as well as its organizers predict.

Rodman is no stranger to the squared circle, drawing flak from teammate Michael Jordan for attending a wrestling event during the NBA Championship series, during which he broke a chair over the burly back of Page, who gets his chance at revenge in the ring.

After making his screen debut opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in “Double Team,” Rodman is ramping up his screen time. He’s already booked to topline the reformatted Jerry Bruckheimer/Rysher-produced syndicated series “Special Operation Forces” (formerly known as “Soldier of Fortune”).

With the PPV wrestling match skedded for July 12, Rodman will start shooting the series July 20, cramming a season’s worth of shoots into eight weeks. Rodman is managed by Dwight Manley and repped by ICM’s Steve Chasman.

MYSTICAL MOVIE: Rutger Hauer will star alongside Noah Taylor, Embeth Davidtz, Stuart Townsend and Ian Holm in “Simon Magus,” a film being directed by Ben Hopkins from his own script. Produced by Robert Jones (“The Usual Suspects”), the film’s shooting in Wales, with Hauer playing a squire opposite Taylor (“Shine”) in the mystical fantasy and romance tale. Goldwyn Films is handling international rights and hopes to screen the film next year at Cannes. Hauer’s repped by Hyler Management, with attorney Mark Stankevich.

WAITE FOR “OCTOBER”: Liam Waite, the son of “The Waltons” star Ralph Waite, is following in familial footsteps. He’s signed to play the lead in “The Day October Died,” opposite William Forsythe, Tom Arnold and Clarence Williams III. Indie pic is being directed by first timer Caesar Cavaricci from his own script, with Alex Giegelin producing.

Waite plays a young man forced to confront his past while searching for his father’s killer. Waite was last seen Off Broadway in “Death of a Salesman.” He’s managed by Steven Greener of Elephant Walk Management and agented by William Morris’ Rachel Shapiro.

DISHINGS: This week’s unattainable hot read that every studio’s trying to lay its hands on is “Little Green Men,” the latest satirical novel by Christopher Buckley. Nobody’s seen the whole manuscript yet, and it’s being guarded closely by Random House. Buckley’s proven eminently optionable, with Warner Bros. developing “God Is My Broker” for Paula Weinstein and Barry Levinson, and “Thank You for Not Smoking” being developed by Mel Gibson and Bruce Davies’ Icon. Dish hears it’s about a George Will-like conservative journalist who is abducted by aliens.

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