Dustin Hoffman's being wooed by Touchstone to direct Tom Schulman's "The Dead Poet's Society" script, about a teacher's unique methods of communicating with his class. It might also involve Hoffman as an actor, but that's a separate deal. . . . Michael Douglas will play an American cop who teams with his Japanese counterpart to solve a series of gangland/business killings in "Black Rain." Scheduled for a May start, it's a Jaffe-Lansing production for Paramount. . . . "RoboCop" director Paul Verhoeven dropped out of "Rain" to take on "Total Recall," a former De Laurentiis project now at Carolco. Daniel Melnick produces the futuristic thriller to star Arnold Schwarzenegger, following Arnie's "Twins Project" (see Page 18). . . . Lorraine Bracco ("Someone to Watch Over Me") plays a Brooklyn high school music teacher in Tri-Star's "Sing," which starts filming next week in New York and Toronto. Newcomers Peter Dobson and Jessica Steen are the romantic interests and Patti LaBelle plays another teacher in the Dean Pitchford script. Richard Baskin makes his directing debut in the Craig Zadan and Neil Meron production. . . .
Role reversal: Mickey Rourke heads for Rome next month to play the title role in director Liliana Cavani's "St. Francis of Assisi." Don't expect the actor to maintain his halo for long--he's currently discussing another street character role with "Barfly" director Barbet Shroeder. . . . Special effects wizard Joe Johnston replaced director Stuart Gordon ("Re-Animator," "From Beyond") on "Teeny Weenies," a Disney release filming in Mexico. Gordon said juggling back-to-back productions left him "severly exhausted." He'll take a breather before starting another H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, "Shadow Over Innsmouth," for Empire this summer.