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Inside Move: Hasta la vista, Arnold?

Political run will cost him millions and sideline career

HOLLYWOOD — He said he’d be back.

But in throwing his hat into the ring in California’s gubernatorial recall race, “Terminator” star Arnold Schwarzenegger likely won’t be seen on the bigscreen for a considerable time — unless the state’s citizens warm to the idea of their governor working on location from his own trailer.

Apart from a pair of cameos, Ah-nold’s aspirations in politics would essentially sidetrack his showbiz career if he wins the Oct. 7 election.

And his political foray may come at considerable personal cost. Friends say he may spend as much as $15 million of his own money on the campaign.

This will only make a small dent in Arnold’s considerable personal fortune, which stems principally from shrewd real estate investments. Then, too, the success of “T3” has enhanced his earning capacity in movies — he may have cleared as much as $30 million from that role alone.

While other veteran action stars, such as Sylvester Stallone, have had to settle for significantly reduced wages, Schwarzenegger now finds himself in a position to ask for a lot more money.

California has seen plenty of stars turn politician — Ronald Reagan and Sonny Bono chief among them — but most were well out of their performing careers. Schwarzenegger has plenty of showbiz mileage still in him.

A winning bid for governor would presumably sideline or kill a number of projects to which the hulking star has been attached, though none were beyond the development stage and none had a director attached.

With “T3” nearing the $300 million mark worldwide, a fourth installment of the cyborg actioners had been under consideration. But filling out the term of Gov. Gray Davis would keep Arnold busy until 2007, raising the possibility of a 60-year-old Terminator.

Warner Bros. was also developing a remake of the sci-fi pic “Westworld” for Schwarzenegger, as well as a long-mooted “Conan” sequel, with John Milius eyeing the helm and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson endorsed by Arnold to play his son.

The towering thesp had also been attached to the New Line comedy “Big Sir.”

Studio execs are taking a wait-and-see approach on Arnold’s career switch, but it’s a sure bet that all will be waiting with projects should his bid falter.

But auds will get a glimpse of Arnold this fall and next summer in a pair of cameos.

Universal’s “The Rundown,” an actioner starring Johnson, bows Sept. 26, a little less than two weeks before the California recall election.

He’s also slated for a cameo in the big-budget Jackie Chan adventure pic “Around the World in Eighty Days,” scheduled to bow next summer.

Ultimately, Schwarzenegger may be back to showbiz sooner than even he expects.

He still has to convince voters he’s the right man for the job in a crowded field of gubernatorial contenders. And even a short campaign will cost him millions.