'Panther' returns to H'wood jungle

NEW YORK — Steve Martin has little patience for the blogging naysayers who think Sony’s postponement of “The Pink Panther” indicates a lack of confidence in the pic.

Asked at the Ziegfield preem Monday about the pic’s bumpy road, Martin, who uses a perfectly goofy French accent as detective Jacques Clouseau, said, “Let all the speculators speculate. The picture speaks for itself,” adding that “The Internet is a place for abusers.”

Speaking in a perfect American accent, the faux Frenchman took issue with the culture of pre-release chatter. “A painter isn’t reviewed when he’s laying the paint down,” he said. “A filmmaker should have the right to protect his product.”

The party, at Cipriani, featured large pink feathers swinging from the chandeliers, mustachioed gendarmes manning the door and the Pink Panther posing for photo ops with guests.

Martin has big shoes to fill, playing a role created by Peter Sellers. But the funnyman says he consciously avoided watching the icon for years before making the movie. “I wanted this role to be my own, not an imitation,” he said.

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