NEW YORK – Having spent the last two years enduring endless questions about Bennifer and "Jersey Girl," (search) director Kevin Smith (search) promises there aren't going to be any women in his next movie.
"You can be damned sure there's going to be an all-male cast in 'Green Hornet,' " he told The Post with a laugh about his current project, based on the '60s TV show.
"Jersey Girl," which finally opens March 26, was supposed to come out in November - but the debut was delayed because of the firestorm of negative publicity surrounding "Gigli," the bomb Ben Affleck (search) and Jennifer Lopez (search) made just before "Jersey Girl."
Smith says he'd work again with his buddy Affleck - who's been in all of his films except for "Clerks" - "in a heartbeat. But for me, it's problematic casting him as a masked man again [in "The Green Hornet"] after he played one in 'Daredevil.' "
"Jersey Girl" represents a distinct change of pace for Smith - unlike his earlier, rowdy slacker farces, it's a sentimental story about a hard-driving music publicist (Affleck) who reluctantly raises his daughter (newcomer Raquel Castro) after his wife (Lopez) dies in childbirth.
And his usually ubiquitous characters Jay and Silent Bob are nowhere to be found.
"I've had to make people understand it's not a Bennifer flick, it's not Gigli 2," Smith said wearily.
"They'll see when the movie comes out that, yeah, the two of them are in it, but they're actually good together - and then she's gone real quick and it's about him and the kid for the rest of the movie."
The intensely personal comedy, Smith says, was inspired by the birth of his daughter Harley Quinn, who will be 5 in June - as well as the death last year of his father, a retired postal worker.
"There's a lot of me in Ollie [Affleck's character] and a lot of my dad in Bart [the character's father], who has that moment where he tells Ollie he doesn't want to die alone," says Smith.
"That's a part of the movie that's always played very poignant to me, but now I can't watch it - and I have to leave at that point because of my dad."
But despite all of the aggravation of the Affleck-J.Lo spotlight - "I felt like I was part of the relationship, but I didn't get any nooky," he jokes - Smith insists he has no regrets about casting what was Hollywood's hottest couple in "Jersey Girl."
"I feel Jen is in many ways the linchpin of this movie, because she got this performance out of Ben because they actually were in love - and you feel his sense of loss after she's gone," he says.
"And if we hadn't had Jen, we wouldn't have cast Raquel, who looks like Jen and is one of our best casting decisions ever.
"Maybe in the immediate future, 'Gigli' or Bennifer will have an immediate effect on our box office," he said.
"But I hope it makes a lot of money, because it would be nice to flip the bird to everyone who predicted it was a bomb-in-waiting."