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Medavoy, pals might make movie money move

MEDAVOY MANEUVERING among several possible teamups: While the town was in post-Oscar recovery Wednesday, numerous players were hatching schemes to pull together financing and distribution ventures. Though former TriStar topper Mike Medavoy now spends time deciding if he’ll co-chair the St. Petersburg Film Festival in Russia, or perhaps teach a course at Harvard, he has also been in talks to hatch a new company, joining forces with former Carolco honcho Peter Hoffman and Arnie Messer, former head of Columbia/TriStar Intl.

Hoffman runs Cinevisions, a production company/consulting firm currently involved in the Keanu Reeves-starrer “Johnny Mnemonic,” which is set up at TriStar. The trio aims to raise foreign financing to make movies. Medavoy, who denied rumors he’s making a run at Orion, confirmed he’s in talks with Hoffman and Messer.

“We’re in the very early stages of discussion, but I’m not in a hurry to do it,” Medavoy said Wednesday. “I want the next thing I do to be special, but I’m obviously cognizant of the fact that there is an increasing need for product.”

There’s also a need for indie distribution, now that the likes of Miramax and New Line have aligned with majors. That’s the hope of another group of industry titans who are setting up plans to join forces and hatch a distribbery. The partners would be producers Keith Addis and Nick Wechsler, producer Ed Pressman, financier Roger Smith and former Orion distribution head David Forbes. Dish hears they’re hoping to pull their financing together soon.

SCOTT’S SHAKEUP: The town was buzzing Wednesday about Scott Rudin’s decision to replace his film shingle prexy Paul Feldsher, who came aboard eight months ago, with Adam Schroeder, a former Rudinite who, in about two years, has ascended from being an assistant to then-senior veep Romi Straussman to running the company. Dish hears that Schroeder’s deal was set Tuesday, and though staff turnover is part of the Rudin mystique, many were surprised about Schroeder, who became Rudin’s director of development before leaving to become a veep for Richard Donner and Lauren Shuler Donner’s production company.

Legend has it that Schroeder was on the receiving end of a paperweight salvo, directly before his first exit from Rudin’s office. “It’s the Hudsucker Proxy,” said one insider. But others say Schroeder is sharp and his style is compatible with Rudin’s. Rudin and Schroeder didn’t comment, but Feldsher opined: “I’m the president of Scott Rudin Prods., and if he’d like to hire another president, he can just pay off my contract.”

CARUSO PLAYS PEEKABOO: “NYPD Blue” star David Caruso is maybe the only TV star all studios would spend money on. But Caruso has put up his own money to option Jim Dalessandro’s mystery novel “Bohemian Heart,” which was published last fall by St. Martin’s Press. Though the studios had a shot at the book before, they’re clamoring for it now that Caruso’s agents at United Talent are shopping it, along with Caruso’s intention to make it the movie he stars in on his 1995 TV hiatus. Caruso turned down numerous offers from studios this spring before signing for the lead in Fox’s remake of “Kiss of Death,” which Barbet Schroeder is directing from Richard Price’s script. It’s based on the 1947 Henry Hathaway film that starred Victor Mature and Richard Widmark.

“David already had offers for the next hiatus, but instead of taking that money, he spent his own for a book he wants to be a signature piece for him,” Dalessandro said.

Caruso wants to play Peekaboo Frankie Fagen, a Norton motorcycle-driving private detective in the mystery, described as “Chinatown” set in contemporary San Francisco. A speedy sale is expected.

Meanwhile, Fox is hot for “Guarding Tess” star Nicolas Cage to play Caruso’s nemesis in “Kiss of Death,” in the maniacal role originated by Widmark. Though sources say the scene in which Widmark tossed a wheelchair-bound old woman down a flight of stairs isn’t in the current draft, there is plenty more mayhem planned by Price.

KAREN’S BIG SALE: Karen Cooper might be the next hot Hollywood scribe. Producers Steven Haft and Marcia Nasatir were among those who responded when ICM’s Jim Rosen sent them a Cooper script, a drama called “411.” They optioned it, only to discover that the scribe was operating under a pseudonym. The screenwriter is actually Corbin Bernsen, best known as Arnold Becker from “L.A. Law,” and currently starring in Morgan Creek’s “Major League II.”

After he developed the script with Rosen, Bernsen decided to send it out using the pen name — his sister’s first name and his mother’s surname — because he didn’t want to influence the sale until parties became interested. When the producers came forward ready to make a deal, he ‘fessed up, and is now attached to make his feature directing debut as well.

PSYCHO DRAMA: Serial killer novels are hot in the publishing biz and, apparently, Hollywood’s appetite for such fare has also increased. So much so that a movie is being developed around a novel that even Jeffrey Dahmer might find unappetizing, Bret Easton Ellis’ “American Psycho.”

You’ll recall the 1991 offering from the author of “Less Than Zero,” in which 26-year-old Harvard grad Patrick Bateman’s lust for designer labels and yuppie pursuits are exceeded by his propensity to torture, maim and kill women, strangers, and even children in rather graphically described scenes that include the employment of drills, nail guns and, well, you get the idea.

Producer Ed Pressman has gotten a script from Norman Snider, and director David Cronenberg, whose roster includes the rather bizarre “Dead Ringers” and “Scanners,” has become attached to the project as director, though sources close to him say he hasn’t committed to it. The book created much controversy when Simon & Schuster bought and then rejected it before it found a home on the Vintage imprint. Sources say it’s being shopped to the studios now, and is being offered to actors.

SCHIFFER SHIFT: There was some feeling that last week’s item on “Crimson Tide” made it sound like screenwriter Michael Schiffer was being phased out. His drafts got Tony Scott and Warren Beatty in the door, and though Scott’s expected to bring Quentin Tarantino in to punch up the dialogue, Schiffer was honing another draft this week.

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