ROLE CALL: Bening ‘Over The Rainbow?’

Annette Bening SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 26, 2000 — Ding, ding, ding went Annette? Annette Bening might follow up her self-absorbed “American Beauty” housewife by playing an even more self-absorbed, complex and pathos-ridden woman.

Word comes today, via Variety’s Army Archerd, that Bening is the No. 1 candidate to play Judy Garland in “Rainbow’s End,” a biopic in development at Fox Searchlight.

The movie, to be based on a new book by another Variety scribe, will be no “Wizard of Oz.” It’s about Garland‘s over-the-hill days in the early 1960s, when she hosted “The Judy Garland Show,” a weekly primetime series. The movie will be executive produced by (get this) Oliver Stone and Garland‘s ex, Sid Luft.

One question, though: Who’s gonna play Liza?

DON’T DO IT! How do you follow up an Oscar for Best Actor? You make an Inspector Clouseau movie, dummy. According to Variety, Kevin Spacey is talking to MGM about stepping into the late Peter Sellers‘ shoes and reviving the “Pink Panther” movie franchise. Spacey, not exactly known for his slapstick comedy skills, would be treading on shaky ground — several other actors have tried and failed to resuscitate the character, or a facsimile of it (Alan Arkin, Ted Wass, Roberto Benigni).

OFF-KEY: “American Psycho” star Christian Bale will star with Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz in a WWII romantic drama, “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,” Variety reports today. Bale plays a Greek fisherman engaged to Cruz. When he goes off to war, she jilts him and falls in love with Cage, who plays an Italian soldier.

DON’T FORGET YOUR PILLS: “Dawson’s Creek’s” Michelle Williams and Ellen DegeneresAnne Heche have joined the cast of “Prozac Nation,” the big-screen version of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s autobiographical novel about depression, which was hot about two years ago. According to Variety, the cast already includes Christina Ricci, who’ll play Wurtzel.

IN LIKE FLINT: In an apparent attempt to make Rob Lowe seem cool again, producer Joel Silver has cast the immortal James Coburn opposite the erstwhile 1980s icon in a low-budget ($6 million) action film. In “Proximity,” Coburn will play a mob figurehead who puts a contract on Lowe‘s life.