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HOLLYWOOD — Walt Disney Studios chairman Joe Roth couldn’t help but gloat a little at Wednesday night’s Variety Summer Cup awards at the Century Plaza Hotel.

“Thank you on behalf of Disney … I promise next year the race won’t be so close,” Roth said, smiling at his nudged-out-by-a-nose runner-up, 20th Century Fox chair Tom Sherak, while being crowned top studio of the summer.

The dueling chairs had been neck and neck until the very end with their respective summer smashes, Disney’s sleeper “The Sixth Sense” and Fox’s “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.”

Also in a jovial mood was New Line Cinema worldwide marketing co-chair Bob Friedman, winning the campaign of the summer prize for “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” Friedman quipped, “This was a special experience and I’m hoping for a sequel in a very big way.”

Variety Cup nods, sponsored by Evian and handed out by Editor-in-chief Peter Bart, also went to Paul Weitz, as director of the summer for “American Pie”; Mace Neufeld, producer of the summer for “The General’s Daughter,” and accepted by Paramount exec VP of production Karen Rosenfelt; Mark Mancina, composer of the summer for “Tarzan”; and Kevin Foxe, accepting indie of the summer for “The Blair Witch Project.”