Internationalsoccer star David Beckham will not be making his acting debut in MGM Pictures' ThePink Panther after all.

Whatare described as "scheduling conflicts" have prevented the England captain andReal Madrid midfield superstar from making a much anticipated cameo in the filmas a soccer player, confirmed producer Robert Simonds on Friday.

Thefilm, which starts shooting in Manhattan on Monday before resuming locationphotography in Paris, stars Steve Martin as the bumbling French InspectorClouseau -- a role originated by the late Peter Sellers - who tries to solvethe murder of a famous soccer coach and the theft of the Pink Panther diamond.

Accordingto the film's director Shawn Levy, he is days away from casting the role of thesoccer coach, which will be played a British actor.

Appearingalongside Martin, who co-wrote this contemporary "reinterpretation" of ThePink Panther with Len Blum, are popstar Beyonce, Jean Reno as Clouseau's sidekick Ponton, Kevin Kline as theirboss Dreyfus, feature film newcomer Kristin Chenoweth and UK actress EmilyMortimer, who has what she describes as "gymnastic" sex scenes with Martin.

Beyonce,who also appeared in Austin Powers In Goldmember in 2000, will play a pop star in the film. Sherevealed on Friday that she is writing and producing two songs for the film,one she will perform on the screen, and another for the soundtrack. She professes to having never seen any of the original Peter Sellers films, before signing on to this film, although she was a fan of the cartoon.

HenryMancini's classic Pink Panther theme tune will be revived for this new version,albeit in an updated variation.

MGMare hoping that Steve Martin's revisionist Clouseau, who this time around finds himself having to confront 21st Century technology, will mark the start of anew franchise. Ironically, the studio has only now entered exclusivenegotiations to be sold off to a investment buying group headed by SonyPictures for around $5bn.

Shouldthat takeover occur, MGM's entire production activities would be shut down,except for the Bond films - and just maybe the Pink Panther franchise should thenew version play well enough at the box office to justify sequels. Sony wantsto focus solely on exploiting MGM's massive back-catalogue for DVD and otheremerging media such as video-on-demand.

Under its recently signed exclusivityagreement, Sony and its three partners - Texas Pacific Group, Providence EquityPartners and Credit Suisse First Boston's private equity arm - have privilegedaccess to MGM's books for the next 15-20 days. If talks stay on track, the Sonyconsortium would close the acquisition before MGM's June 29 annual shareholdermeeting.