Since Smallville — the WB's serialization of Superboy's beginnings — has taken off faster than a speeding bullet, the network has gone ape to bring to the small screen another man of steel... or at least another hero with buns of steel: Tarzan.

While the proposed program only recently reached the script stage (meaning that the earliest that it could swing onto the schedule is fall 2002), at least the Frog won't lose any time casting the lead role of a teenager monkeying around in the jungle. Chad Michael Murray — Rory's smitten tormentor, Tristan, on The Gilmore Girls last season and Jen's two-timing lover, Charlie, on Dawson's Creek this year — has a holding deal with the WB that all but guarantees him a show of his own.

Still, whether that regular gig will turn out to be Tarzan remains to be seen. "I know of [the project], but I'm not saying I'm attached to it," he tells TV Guide Online diplomatically. "It's very much in the preliminary stage."

However, since the WB would be bananas not to hand him the title part, the mop-topped heartthrob has given some thought to the sacrifices that would be necessary to play Cheetah's bare-chested buddy. "I think going to the gym would be an everyday thing," he acknowledges, then adds — dieters would say spitefully — "But I can eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch all day and still not put on a pound."

Obviously. It's not for nothing, after all, that, in any given scene, Dawson's used Murray's flesh for fantasy. "I'm just doing my job," he laughs. "I'm naked in every episode." Quick — somebody, pass the loincloth!