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For Roth, it’s ‘Potter’ or ‘Planet’?

Few actors menace a protagonist better than Tim Roth, and that ability has created a dream scenario for the actor, and a nightmare for his agents. Roth, who had been expected to take a supporting role in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” has just been offered the chance to co-star with Mark Wahlberg in the Tim Burton-directed remake of “Planet of the Apes” at Fox.

Both are big movies, and, unfortunately, both go into production at the same time. In Potter, Roth’s being sought to play Professor Snape, a teacher of potions at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who has been a nemesis of Potter in the first four J.K. Rowling books, presumably making for multiple film appearances in the Warner Bros. series. But Fox’s offer for its potential blockbuster is even better: He’s the prime primate who enslaves Wahlberg’s character. Roth, who was Oscar nominated for torturing Liam Neeson throughout “Rob Roy,” would clearly like to do both jobs, but might be tortured into having to make a tough choice.

Scheduling multiple event-sized films for actors is a perilous process, as evidenced by “Mission: Impossible 2.” The film’s seemingly endless production schedule nixed Dougray Scott from the “X-Men” Wolverine role that went to Hugh Jackman, and knocked Thandie Newton out of contention from joining Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz in “Charlie’s Angels,” a role which went to Lucy Liu. Roth’s IFA reps would not comment.

MANN GETS ROTH IN BOXING CORNER: As Michael Mann gets the Muhammad Ali biopic in ring shape as Will Smith’s next film, the director has brought in Eric Roth, his collaborator on “The Insider,” to hone the script done by Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson. Filming’s expected to begin in the fall.

WILLIAMS’ “CORONETS” MOMENT: A few heads probably turned at CAA headquarters on Monday, when Robin Williams was spotted at the percentery, likely for the first time since he and longtime rep Mike Menchel exited to AMG, a move which precipitated CAA’s declaration that it would no longer share representation of clients under Mike Ovitz’s management banner. But Williams wasn’t there to trumpet a truce, but rather for “Kind Hearts and Coronets.” Director Mike Nichols, who’s repped by CAA, supervised a reading there of the Elaine May-scripted remake of the 1949 British comedy which starred Alec Guinness in eight roles. Williams — in the multiple Guinness roles — read with Will Smith, Connie Nielsen and Jada Pinkett Smith. May’s still tinkering with the script for Universal, but the reading went well, sources said.

CRAIG’S A JOLIE “RAIDER”: Daniel Craig, a British actor best known for work onstage and in BBC programming, just landed the role of his career, starring opposite Angelina Jolie in “Tomb Raider,” the Simon West-directed live-action Paramount film based on the videogame. Craig’s appeared in such films as “Elizabeth” and “I Dreamed of Africa,” but “Tomb Raider” could be his starmaking turn. The pic brings to life the video heroine Lara Croft, a sexy publishing magnate who travels to exotic locations to uncover and preserve ancient artifacts. Craig is repped by William Morris in the U.S., and by Sally Long-Innes of ICM in London.

YOUNG SHERAK IN SPOOF: William Sherak, the son of Fox honcho Tom Sherak, has teamed up with pal Jason Shuman to become the latest aspiring writer-directors to try to get noticed by making a short film parody.

The duo’s tried a novel approach, spoofing the slew of parodies which have made the agency rounds, and led to plenty of meetings, even a few deals. In “Spoof! An Insiders Guide to Short Film Success,” a talentless group of filmmakers tries to homage “Eyes Wide Shut” and use established parodies as inspiration. In a closing scene, Sherak and his co-director Shuman reprise the steamy “Eyes Wide Shut” mirror-make-out scene with a shirtless Steven Spielberg look-alike. The young Sherak, who is director of development for producer John Davis, said he and Shuman got the idea after watching a blizzard of clever parodies — like “George Lucas in Love,” “Swing Blade” and “Saving Ryan’s Privates” — get out of hand with a swarm of “Blair Witch Project” parodies. “The only way to end the genre was to spoof it,” said Sherak, who acknowledges he and Shuman hope to get noticed and maybe get a deal to write and direct their own feature. “The guys in our film are not people who are at all interested in doing something original, but just want a deal at any cost.”

Rather than the arcane dispersion of cassettes that was the preferred mode of parody distribution just two years ago, Sherak and Shuman got their short onto IFilmPro’s Web site.

Though a youngster in the biz, Sherak’s been the secret weapon of many a hit. After following his dad around trying to learn the film biz since childhood, Sherak found himself at the age of 12 in a van with numerous execs and producers, whom he engaged in a game of Name That Tune. When one participant guessed his rendition of “The Addam’s Family,” Sherak turned to Scott Rudin and boldly suggested he should turn the series into a movie. Rudin, who did, promised Sherak could play Pugsley if the film went forward. That dream role slipped through the cracks, but Sherak got his thespian moment when Betty Thomas commandeered him into playing Frogboy, a frog-suited character in “Dr. Dolittle” which got left on the cutting room floor. The Farrellys picked up that footage and put Frogboy into “There’s Something About Mary,” then put Sherak into a “Me, Myself & Irene” scene in which he ogles Renee Zellweger, which was relegated to the closing credits. “You look at those seemingly unrelated hit films, and the one thing in common is William Sherak,” he said.

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