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‘Blue’ boy Caruso cops deal for double duty

CARUSO’S DOUBLE DUTY PLAN: When David Caruso wanted to exploit his status as a hot new TV talent to become a movie star, he had to make a stormy and historic exit from “NYPD Blue” to do it. Less than three years later, he’s returning to series TV and his flim career keeps on rolling.

After making a deal to star in another gritty crime drama set in New York – this time he’s a prosecutor in a Nick Pileggi-scripted CBS series to be exec produced by John Romano – Caruso has just made a deal to develop as a starring vehicle a script he wrote. He made the deal with New Regency’s Arnon Milchan, who’s co-producing the series with Columbia/TriStar. Caruso will shoot the pilot in April, with CBS eyeing a fall slot for the series.

“It seems like chapter two for me and I feel I’ve gotten lucky again,” Caruso said in his first comments since making the series deal, which came about after Steven Bochco dropped a three-season series banishment that was part of Caruso’s “NYPD Blue” exit visa. “Steven was really gracious in helping me out,” Caruso said. “It was just a legal thing, but it was up to Steven and he helped. He’s at CBS too, so ironically, we’re kind of on the same team again. I’m just glad to be back to the drama format and the schedule and the weekly contact with the audience. I missed that.”

He won’t miss having to choose between TV and movie careers. “I was kind of the prototype, and a lot of stuff happened to me that had no precedent,” he said. “Now, there are people who do both, and networks are far more open to loosening the schedules. Movies are seen as positives and not as a threat to the show. Back then, it was either/or. It was exciting to be the first guy through the ringer, but there was a downside and I fielded a lot of fire.”

Neither “Kiss of Death” nor “Jade” made Caruso as big a factor in films as “Blue” did for his TV career, but he’s worked steadily. He just finished the Oliver Stone-produced John Ridley-directed drama “Cold Around the Heart.” He starred with Marg Helgenberger for director Peter Weller in Showtime’s adaptation of the Elmore Leonard’s “The Gold Coast.” And he’s currently filming the Rob Spruill-directed pic “Body Count” with Linda Fiorentino, Forest Whitaker and John Leguizamo.

He’ll then shoot the pilot, which was hatched through a conversation between Caruso’s partner, Craig Baumgarten, and Pileggi, who suggested the legal drama. Caruso and Pileggi then met with federal prosecutors, including former head lawyer and current Gotham Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Caruso’s New Regency deal is for an untitled drama he wrote after leaving “Blue” and which he’s long wanted to star in. “It’s a male and female surveillance team, working for a secret branch of the Justice Dept.,” he said. “They’re given a 3-year-old child as part of their cover, and then are forced to become a family to survive. This is everything I wanted; to have the best of both worlds.”

SPY VS. SPY IN HIGH GEAR: After nearly two years of covert development, the race to get movies done about CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames is heating up. Fox 2000 seems hell-bent on getting Nicolas Cage to play Ames for the Carl Franklin-directed “Killer Spy,” which seems possible if the studio waits for Cage to co-star with Meg Ryan in “City of Angels.”

The other action’s at Showtime, where Anasazi Prods. president Bob Benedetti and Ted Danson have placed an Ames pic they’ve developed in cooperation with Ames himself. David Anspaugh’s been offered the directing assignment to capture Ames, whose treachery in selling out U.S. spies to the Soviets led to the deaths of at least 11 agents. There was one other pic, at MGM, but the studio put it in turnaround, and that material, based on a book by Pete Earley, could well end up as fodder for the Showtime pic as well.

BERMAN GETS A COOKBOOK: As the book market gets back into swing, one author being chased by studios is Robin Cook (“Coma”). He’s finished a thriller about genetic engineering called “Chromosome 6,” and Warner Bros. has gotten first crack, thanks to producer Bruce Berman.

The former president of production at WB struck up a kinship with Cook back when he made a deal with the author that allowed WB to use the title of one of his novels, “Outbreak,” for its unrelated viral pic. Their friendship proved infectious, and when Berman exited the executive suites for a first-look producing deal at WB, Cook agreed to work with him.

LOOSE NO MORE: Longtime ICM agent Lisa Loosemore recently left the agency to join the management side of the business. She has hooked up with Heather Reynolds and Richard Picerni of Heather Reynolds Associates to form First Artists, a bicoastal management firm. Loosemore brings such clients as Christine Baranski, John Heard, Blair Brown, Claudia Shear and Bill Irwin. They’ll join Reynolds clients Isabelle Adjani, Lorraine Bracco, Malcolm Gets, Ally Walker and Paulina Porizkova.

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