''If called by a panther/Don't anther,'' wrote poet Ogden Nash. Nonetheless, Steve Martin is poised to answer the call of ''The Pink Panther,'' in the fourth attempt to revive the franchise since Peter Sellers died in 1980. Variety reports that rights holder MGM has offered Martin the role of Inspector Clouseau, the klutzy, thickly accented, and clueless French detective made famous by Sellers in five movies. (Six, if you count the Frankenstein creation ''Trail of the Pink Panther,'' stitched together from old Sellers outtakes after the actor's death.)
The movie would be a remake of 1964's ''The Pink Panther,'' which introduced both Clouseau and the oft-stolen diamond of the title. The film is to shoot in 2004, with Ivan Reitman attached to direct, if he's not too busy helping pal Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of his transition team. The ''Kindergarten Cop'' helmer, who's directed three Schwarzenegger movies, is the sole entertainment industry insider on the team helping smooth the actor's way into his new job as California governor. So Reitman knows from guys with hilarious accents.