By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated November 19, 2002 01:55 PM

In an ongoing renaissance of his career that began with this year’s baseball film “The Rookie” and continues with the current “Far From Heaven,” in which he plays a trapped gay husband who breaks loose, Dennis Quaid has been tapped to play the showy hero Sam Houston in “The Alamo,” Variety reports.

What the trade paper does not note, however, is that Quaid, 48, was born in Houston, Texas.

The $80 million movie, to be directed John Lee Hancock (“Bad Boys 2”) and also starring Billy Bob Thornton, is due to start shooting in January so it can be released in time for Christmas next year.

Originally, “The Alamo” was to have been directed by Ron Howard, with Russell Crowe set to play Houston, but its studio, Disney, scrapped that plan and those principals left the project once the film’s budget hit $125 million and was conceived with an R-rating in mind. A PG rating is now expected.

Ironically, Quaid’s former wife, Meg Ryan, was said to have had a fling with Crowe, which was cited as but one reason for the 2001 breakup of their 10-year marriage. Quaid and Ryan have a son, Jack, 10.

But as the actor told The New York Times last week: “I feel like I am in the best place I’ve been for 13 or 14 years, really. I think there’s ebbs and flows and cycles to every career. Back in the late 80’s I was the hot guy there for a while. And now I feel like I’m getting back there again.”