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This much is known: John Calley will retire.

The Sony Pictures chairman-CEO’s segue into a producing deal, which has seemingly been rumored since the advent of talkies, gained a misleading sense of immediacy last week thanks to some breathless reports in the press.

In a statement, Sony confirmed Calley is “in discussions” with the conglom to make the transition “sometime this fall.” At 73, Calley has a worsening case of diabetes that’s one reason for his exit.

But another popular bit of scuttlebutt, that Revolution Studios topper Joe Roth would succeed Calley, seems to lose credibility by the day. Roth, just announced as producer of the 2004 Academy Awards telecast, has plenty else on his plate. Most significantly, he runs Revolution with a degree of autonomy and financial wherewithal that would not be possible in the corporate suite.

After the hit the Japanese took on the Peter GuberJon Peters regime in the 1990s, it seems unlikely they would fork over a hefty sum for a film chief of Roth’s caliber.

Besides, having recently elevated a gaggle of execs to president, vice chairman and chairman, there seem to be plenty of cooks in the Culver City kitchen.