October 08, 2003 12:18 PM

California’s gubernatorial gain may be Hollywood’s leave of absence.

Incoming head of state Arnold Schwarzenegger will have to give up some planned movie projects to take on his new role as governor, the Hollywood Reporter notes.

The “Terminator” franchise will probably lose its leading man for its fourth incarnation, now under development. But because the third film ended with the two younger characters — played by Nick Stahl and Claire Danes — facing the future without the Terminator at their side, the film could theoretically be produced without its he-man as a headliner, the industry paper suggests.

Schwarzenegger also had expressed interest in “Big Sir,” a New Line comedy about a man traveling cross-country with his future stepkids. No director has been assigned to the project, however, and as Schwarzenegger hadn’t yet signed on the dotted line, the studio is now looking for a replacement. The actor had also been working on a remake of “Westworld,” the 1973 sci-fi Western, and a sequel to 1982’s “Conan the Barbarian,” both of whose fates are up in the air.

Schwarzenegger himself has not yet said whether he plans to continue working in Hollywood, the Associated Press notes. The actor will be close to 60 by the time his current term as governor expires, which may be a bit old for an action hero. And although Schwarzenegger has made a stab at comedy with films such as “Twins” and “Kindergarten Cop,” even that genre may be out of his reach by the time he’s out of the governor’s seat.

“Comic stuff is a younger man’s game to some degree,” Esquire film writer Kim Masters tells AP.

Still, fans don’t have to bid farewell to the muscleman quite yet. Schwarzenegger has a cameo role in the recently released action flick “The Rundown,” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. And the new governor also has a featured role in “Around the World in 80 Days,” starring Jackie Chan and due for release next year. Meanwhile, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” hits stores on video and DVD on Nov. 11.

For now, Hollywood can content itself with the fact that it has at least retained one of its gubernatorial candidates: The dance card of Gary Coleman, who came in eighth in the balloting — just behind Hustler publisher Larry Flynt — is now wide open.

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