‘Santa’ grants helmer’s wish

Lembeck aboard Disney's 'Clause 3'

Disney’s loading up its Santa bag again.

Mouse House has signed helmer Michael Lembeck for “The Santa Clause 3,” clearing the way for pic to start shooting in November. As previously announced, topliner Tim Allen will return.

Studio is aiming for a holiday 2006 release slot.

Ed Decter and John Strauss are writing the screenplay. Pair shared screenplay credit on “Clause 2.”

In “Santa Clause 3” Santa, aka Scott Calvin, struggles to keep his new family happy while battling Jack Frost, who is trying to take over Christmas.

Karen Glass and Brigham Taylor are overseeing for Disney.

TV veteran Lembeck, who helmed “Santa Clause 2,” returns to the Mouse after directing “Connie and Carla” for Universal.

Allen will shoot “Clause” after lensing “Zoom” (formerly “Zoom’s Academy”) this summer for Revolution.

“Clause” would be Allen’s second big Disney release for 2006, joining “The Shaggy Dog,” which recently wrapped shooting.

The “Clause” franchise has been a big moneymaker for Disney. The initial installment raked in $145 million in the U.S. and the 2002 sequel nabbed $139 million domestic.

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