Nellie Andreeva writes: Sean Astin, Leelee Sobieski and Timothy Dalton are set and Angie Harmon is in negotiations to star in NBC’s four-hour miniseries “Hercules,” from Hallmark Entertainment.

British newcomer Paul Tefter has been selected from more than 200 candidates to play the title role in the project, which chronicles the life of the Greek hero who, after killing his two sons and two of his brother’s sons, performs 12 labors to repent.

Astin will play Linus, Hercules’ music teacher. Sobieski will play Hercules’ second wife, Deianeira. Harmon will play Hercules’ mother, Alcmene, and Dalton will play the hero’s stepfather, Amphitryon.

Roger Young is directing the mini, budgeted at more than $20 million, from a script by Charles Pogue.

“Hercules,” executive produced by Robert Halmi Sr., is scheduled to begin production Aug. 23 in New Zealand with the premiere eyed for May 2005.

While Tefler has an imposing physique, at 6-foot-2, the project will not follow the Hollywood formula of portraying Hercules as a Schwarzenegger-type muscle man with incredible physical strength.

“His strength comes within,” Halmi said. “He grows strong emotionally, mentally and spiritually as he tries to redeem himself.”

Astin, who played Frodo’s best friend Sam Gamgee in “The Lord of Rings” trilogy, recently wrapped the feature “Caught in the Act” and will next be seen in “Elvis Has Left the Building” and “Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School.”

He is repped by Writers & Artists Group International, manager Joel Stevens and attorney David Feldman.

Sobieski, whose credits include starring roles in the miniseries “Joan of Arc” for CBS and “Uprising” for NBC, is repped by ICM and manager Joan Hyler.

Harmon, a “Law & Order” veteran, most recently co-starred in the feature “Agent Cody Banks.” She is repped by UTA.

Dalton, who has a long relationship with Halmi, most recently starred as Julius Caesar in Hallmark’s 1999 telefilm for ABC “Cleopatra.”

Dalton, best known for his role as James Bond in “The Living Daylights” and “License to Kill,” was most recently seen in the features “Looney Tunes: Back in Action” and “American Outlaws.”

Telfer is not a stranger to ancient times. He had roles on TNT’s miniseries “Spartacus” and the upcoming indie “Alexander the Great From Macedonia.”

In addition to “Hercules,” Halmi is shepherding two other high-profile longform projects to air on broadcast networks next season, “A Christmas Carol” for NBC and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” for CBS.