''Hit Men'' may hit the big screen -- Fredric Dannen's book about the dirty dealings of the music industry has been optioned

Hit Men, Fredric Dannen’s 1990 best-selling book about dirty dealings in the music industry, may eventually make a killing at the box office. Last month a small Australian film concern, Paul Dainty Ltd., optioned movie rights to the expose about corruption and intrigue in the music industry. Why did it take so long for the book to be optioned? ”The subject matter is a little bit close to home,” speculates Dannen, 35. ”Powerful people in the music business may also have influence in the movie industry.” Dannen, who will consult on the script, guesses that real people — including Clive Davis, president of Arista Records, powerful industry lawyer Allen Grubman, and Sony Music president Tommy Mottola — will be fictionalized in the movie to avoid possible legal problems. Though casting hasn’t been discussed, one big problem is deciding who will play Walter Yetnikoff, the former president of CBS Records, whom Dannen characterizes as ”a brilliant, crafty rock warlord.” Dannen votes for Rip Torn ”because he’s already played Yetnikoff in 1980’s One Trick Pony,” or better yet, ”Walter should play himself.” Yetnikoff has other ideas. ”Gary Cooper should play me,” says the ex-rock czar, who calls Hit Men a ”work of fiction. But Dannen isn’t going to get either of us. Cooper is dead, and I would only do it on one condition — I get final cut.”