Hoffman preps to ‘Meet the Fockers’

Thesp joins De Niro, Stiller in Roach-helmed sequel

Dustin Hoffman is ready to tackle the age-old question of what sort of parent would name his son Gaylord Focker.

Hoffman has inked a deal to play the father of Ben Stiller’s character in “Meet the Fockers,” the follow-up to “Meet the Parents,” which Universal is readying for late March start. U has already set a Dec. 22 release date for the pic.

Jay Roach is set to return to helm. Robert De Niro and Stiller have already reached deals to reprise their roles as a protective father and the bumbling boyfriend who wants to marry his daughter.

The role of Mrs. Focker is still to be cast. At the premiere of “Along Came Polly,” Stiller told USA Today, “My dream is Barbra Streisand.”

Teri Polo and Blythe Danner are also returning to play, respectively, Stiller’s fiance and De Niro’s wife.

“Fockers” picks up where “Parents” ended: De Niro’s uptight character has blessed the wedding of his daughter to Stiller’s character. All that is left before the wedding is for the two sets to get to know one another.

After “Parents” grossed $166 million domestically in 2000, U was enthusiastic about making a sequel. But rather than rushing it into production, the talent involved wanted to be patient while working the script into shape.

“Parents” scribe Jim Herzfeld as well as writing team Tim Rasmussen and Vince DiMeglio get credit on the final draft.

“Fockers” is being produced on a tight schedule. De Niro began production in New York on Fox thriller “Hide and Seek” on Monday. Pic is skedded to wrap March 25, and then De Niro will turn around and start “Fockers” in Hollywood on March 29.

Pic is being produced by Tribeca Prods. partners De Niro and Jane Rosenthal as well as Roach. Nancy Tenenbaum will exec produce.

Hoffman is repped by Endeavor.

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