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Dish

Tom Clancy, whose Jack Ryan novels “The Hunt for Red October” and “Patriot Games” have been a Paramount franchise, is moving his high-tech brand of espionage over to Savoy. Clancy has sold Savoy the screen rights to “Without Remorse,” a G.P. Putnam novel based on the adventures of a new character, ex-Navy SEAL John Kelly. Former NBC and Paramount Pictures topper Brandon Tartikoff will produce.

DISH hears the book — out in July with a 1.5 million first printing — went for nearly $ 2.5 million, close to recent record deals made by Michael Crichton and John Grisham.

It’s the second monster book rights sale this week, after Warner Bros. paid a total of $ 3.5 million for Michael Crichton’s latest (with a $ 2.5 million base price for the book). But Clancy says money was secondary: “The money’s nice, but I’m not doing it for the money. I went with Savoy because I want to be part of a real creative partnership, which is a new experience for me. Suffice to say, I have all the control I want to have.”

Though Savoy pledged to be filmmaker-friendly, the huge deal seems to stretch its mandate to not invest heavily in development. Nonsense, says Alan Greisman, Savoy’s president of motion pictures: “We’re not developing. We’re going to make this movie. At present, we’ve not spent a dime on development, and we have an impressive slate of pictures.”

He said Savoy simply won’t waste money on projects that die in development. “We’ll only commit to projects we’re going to make.” Savoy starts shooting “Without Remorse” in 1994, and if Clancy’s Kelly character clicks, it could give the studio its first sequels franchise.

As for Clancy, the deal calls into question whether there will be future collaborations with Paramount. The studio has set Harrison Ford for the third Jack Ryan novel, “Clear and Present Danger,” this fall. Before offering the next Ryan book in the series, “The Sum of All Fears,” Clancy’s waiting to see the movie.

“I wanted to place Tom with a company that would make a movie which reflected Tom Clancy’s creative vision, and that would work with him in partnership to that end,” said Robert Gottlieb, exec veep at William Morris, who, with senior veep Mike Simpson, repped both Clancy and Tartikoff. “Tom and other best-selling authors are gorillas in their own right. They create product that triple-A talent want to be associated with.”

It’s possible, then, that Savoy could end up with “The Sum of All Fears” as well.

“It’s not a question of people disliking each other,” Gottlieb said about his client’s tenuous tenure with Par. “It’s just time for another marriage. Tom hopes to have a long-term relationship with Savoy.”

Though Clancy clashed with Par over changes to “Patriot Games,” he clicked with Tartikoff, who has already set up at NBC “Op-Center,” a series Clancy co-created. Tartikoff said Clancy’s input demands aren’t unreasonable, and Greisman agreed: “This deal is an opportunity for Tom Clancy to see his vision realized on the big screen and to work with a unique company that has an appreciation of that vision. We’re not an intrusive studio, and want to establish a filmmaker-friendly feel. Making this movie will be evidence of that.”

Clancy was blunt about growing demands over screen input by novelists like himself and Crichton: “Sooner or later some movie company will realize that if you treat writers decently, they’ll keep doing business with you. If a guy doing movie scripts was as good at telling stories as a Crichton or Steve King, wouldn’t they be making millions writing books instead of a few hundred thousand writing scripts?

“This took a helluva lot of courage by the principals at Savoy. To trust in my intelligence showed guts. If the film works, and Savoy plays a square game with me, I’ll stick with them forever. Why would I change if these guys are as good as I think they are?”

SCHUMACHER SHOO-IN: Once he finishes “The Client” for Warner Bros., Joel Schumacher will be entrusted with the studio’s most valuable franchise. DISH hears Schumacher will replace Tim Burton behind the cameras on “Batman 3.”

Burton made it clear he wouldn’t direct another sequel after “Batman Returns, ” though he’ll stay on as an exec producer of the next film. Since sequel salaries soar, inside betting is that Schumacher’s fee will rise from his current $ 3 million to $ 5 million or more.

Also on the Bat-Dish: Though Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman stole “Batman Returns,” it’s unlikely she’ll be in “Batman 3.” That’s because Warner Bros. is hatching plans for Pfeiffer to get her own Catwoman film, with an eye toward launching her as a new action hero. WB wouldn’t comment.

FOLLOWING FRANK? Frank Mancuso hasn’t even taken the reins over at UA, and already there’s speculation all over town that his former Paramount colleagues will soon rejoin him in the exec suites.

JESSE’S RETURN: Studio interest in the Western continues to grow. Producers Ned and Nancy Graham Tanen are optioning “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” which Ron Hansen wrote in 1983. DISH hears they hope to jump into the project at Sony right after finishing the Stephen Frears-directed “Mary Reilly” at TriStar.

There have been numerous pix made about James, including “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter.” This one, thankfully, will be closely rooted in the true story of Missouri’s most famous outlaw.

HAUTY DUTY: Screenwriter Chris Hauty, whose first script, “Don Coyote,” is on the fast track at Fox with Jonathan Lynn lined up to direct and produce, has scored again at Hollywood Pictures. According to Hauty’s agent, Jordan Baer of Original Artists, the writer is nailing down a deal with Hollywood Pictures exec Danny Halsted for a film that would star Karen Duffy, the MTV veejay known as Duff, who’s become a Disney fave.

Tentatively titled “The Rules of Engagement,” the comedy’s a modern adaptation of “The Taming of the Shrew.” The comedy’s about three former boyfriends who’ve been rebuffed by the Duff, and plot revenge. Hollywood Pix has cleaned up with Duff’s fellow MTVer and “Son in Law” star Pauly Shore.

Duff’s manager Michael Rotenberg produces “Rules” with Interscope. Hauty co-produces. Halsted did not return phone calls.

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