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‘Milk Money’ makes change

Richard Benjamin will direct Paramount’s romantic comedy “Milk Money,” starring Melanie Griffith, sources confirmed yesterday.

“Milk Money,” a spec script written by John Mattson, was purchased last November by Paramount for a reported $ 1.1 million and was originally set to be directed by Joe Dante.

A subsequent dispute between Dante and Par over directing fees and the film’s budget led to Dante ankling the project.

According to a source close to the project, Griffith, who has approval on the film’s director, recently agreed on Benjamin, who was high on Paramount’s list of potential directors after Dante left.

“Milk Money” is the story of three 12-year-old boys who pool their milk money to go into the big city and buy a hooker so they can see a real naked woman.

Benjamin’s directing credits include the soon-to-be-released “Made in America ,””Mermaids,””My Stepmother Is an Alien” and “Downtown.”

As for Dante’s dispute with Par, sources say the studio offered Dante only $ 1 million, although his directing fees have been in the $ 2.5 million range. Additionally, they wanted him to make a non-union, $ 14 million film to be shot in Canada.

“Doing the film the way Joe Dante wanted to do it would have been more expensive,” the source said. “His way wasn’t their concept and he withdrew.”

According to the source, Dante and partner Mike Finnell likely will stay on as film’s exec producers.

Neither Benjamin’s agent, Phil Gersh, nor Dante’s agent, David Gersh (Phil’s son), was available for comment.

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