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‘NYPD Blue’s’ Caruso in Fox’s’Kiss’ remake

Another TV star has entered the ranks of million-dollar screen stars. On Friday, Fox won a heated race to put “NYPD Blue” star David Caruso in a movie on his hiatus period by landing him to star in the remake of “Kiss of Death,” which will be directed by Barbet Schroeder from a script by Richard Price.

Buzz hears Caruso will crack the seven-figure barrier for the movie, which he’ll shoot in early May after the show winds its season April 15.

Though Caruso has appeared regularly in films since making his feature debut in “An Officer and a Gentleman” in 1982, this is his first since he became an overnight sensation as battle-weary Gotham police detective John Kelly in the ABC show.

Caruso last month won the Golden Globe Award for best actor in a dramatic series.

Caruso’s making a rare transformation from a hit TV series to instant star. As such, he’s expected to carry a feature film with an A-level writer and director. But Caruso’s starring services have been in high demand. Before agreeing to take the Fox role, Caruso turned down offers for such A-level films as Columbia’s “Gridiron Gang,” TriStar’s “Devil in a Blue Dress” and Miramax’s “Smoke,” sources said. The film will finish shooting in July, and Caruso will return to series duty Aug. 8. Caruso’s deal was set by his UTA agent David De Camillo, manager Christopher Wright and attorney Steve Warren, a partner at Hansen Jacobson Teller & Hoberman.

In the film, Caruso plays a character his TV persona might relish interrogating. Nick Bianco is an ex-con trying to put his life together who gets unwittingly drawn back to the rackets that put him in prison in the first place.

The role in the 1947 original was played by Victor Mature, but sources said that, in addition to being updated to contemporary New York, the storyline has been radically changed by scripter Price, and might even be retitled.

IS EISNER EYEING ISLAND EXODUS? The talk on the street has Eric Eisner, who ran David Geffen’s company before becoming chief of Island World, negotiating an independent producing deal for himself and possibly a director with a major studio.

Eisner and Island World partners John Heyman and Chris Blackwell reportedly have had problems lately due to a difference in management styles and philosophies.

Eisner is a fiercely aggressive former music industry attorney who might well land at Sony, since he and Peter Guber are longtime friends.

Meanwhile, rumors raced at the American Film Market that Island World and Polygram were close to merging.

Toppers at both companies have strenuously denied the deal was in the works, with Heyman releasing this statement: “Island World has explored potential strategic alliances with several European and Asian media companies. Discussions have included joint ventures, cross-investments and the sale of an interest in Island World. At this time, no agreements have been reached and it is premature to predict the outcome of any ongoing discussions.”

PROJECT SHELVED Scratch John Malkovich from making his directorial debut this spring with the screen adaptation of Wallace Shawn’s play “Marie and Bruce.”

Buzz hears the project, which was scheduled to team current Oscar nominees Malkovich (“In the Line of Fire”) and Holly Hunter (“The Piano”), was tabled after Hunter withdrew.

The film, the first under Malkovich’s first-look deal at Castle Rock, was tentatively scheduled to begin shooting in April.

ROSIE’S IRE Buzz hears that the real reason Roseanne Arnold was angered in her renegotiation with Carsey-Werner and ABC was that Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner’s company did a little horse trading at the web. Along with renewing “Roseanne,” Carsey-Werner made sure that its other show, “Grace Under Fire,” was assured not only a good timeslot but also a higher number of renewal episodes and a higher license fee.

Those benefits go solely to Carsey-Werner, so Arnold’s understandably miffed that the negotiations served Tom and Marcy much better than they did Tom and Roseanne.

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