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While Arnold Schwarzenegger made good on his cyborg’s promise to be back for “Terminator 3,” the franchise’s creator, director James Cameron, won’t follow suit.

C2 Pictures partners Mario Kassar and Andy Vajna recently attached Schwarzenegger to star in the franchise’s third installment, the first without Cameron at the helm. “T3” is slated for a late spring 2001 start, but no domestic distribution is in place.

Longtime Cameron producing partner Rae Sanchini said the helmer’s involvement hasn’t been a real possibility for more than a year. C2’s discussions with Fox and Cameron about partnering on the film fell apart in early 1999 when C2 brought VCL and Toho-Towa on board as co-financiers.

“I don’t think (Cameron) has talked to Mario or Andy about this in over a year,” Sanchini said.

She acknowledged that speculation rose when Schwarzenegger joined the project, but that Cameron’s participation was never a real possibility.

“Yes, (Schwarzenegger and Cameron) are fabulous friends,” Sanchini said, “and yes, they love working together, but no, he won’t be directing the movie.”

The sequel rights to the sci-fi series are held by Kassar and Vajna, the former Carolco chiefs who reteamed under their C-2 banner. They did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

When Schwarzenegger committed to star in T3 last month, he said, “My big wish is that Jim Cameron and I will work together again.” For now, that wish will be restricted to “True Lies 2,” which Cameron is developing at Fox.