BATMAN'S STAR WARS

Despite all the talk that Michael Keaton's Batman Forever deal soured because he had tired of battling scene-stealing costars like Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito and now Tommy Lee Jones, we hear there was another, more pressing reason: money.

A source says that Kea-ton, who was paid an estimated $5 million for Batman and $10 million for Batman Returns, "was demanding" $15 million to reprise his role as the Caped Crusader, along with an additional "financial consideration'' if production went past a certain date. The source says that's when Warner Bros, "pulled the plug" on the deal, casting Val Kilmer in Keaton's place.

But Harry Columby, Keaton's manager, says it was his client who "walked away" and that "money was never a factor." Columby claims Keaton left because of creative differences with the film's director, Joel Schumacher, adding, "Michael would have liked to have been more involved in the direction his Batman character was going. It was clear that was not going to happen."

THE PRICE WAS RIGHT
Only a few days before she was supposed to deliver a humorous speech at a black-tie New "York City event hosted by Rupert Murdoch, Carrie Fisher abruptly canceled. The reason for her no-show: an offer to work as script doctor on Outbreak, a film about a viral epidemic that will star Dustin Hoffman. According to one of the party's organizers, "Basically, Carrie said she couldn't fly in from L.A. because she needed the money" that this last-minute script job offered her. Fisher's rep says it's true that work on Outbreak kept the actress-writer from attending the party. But, according to the rep, Fisher "is always thinking that she needs money. It's not true. She doesn't."

TRYING TO BOOK'EM
Despite the rush to put together quickie paperback accounts of the O.J. Simpson case, publishers appear unwilling to bid on an in-depth, hardcover book that agent Mort Janklow and his controversial client Joe McGinniss (The Last Brother) are pitching. According to one book editor, serious publishers are not only wary because "too much about this case can change by the time McGinniss gets through writing it," but they think that Janklow's $3 million asking price" for McGinniss "is too high." Janklow, for his part, says he has had "interesting offers," but as yet "no closed deal."

John F. Kennedy Jr., who's trying to launch a political magazine, is often seen these days at a Fifth Avenue office building in downtown Manhattan, where, according to a building employee, Kennedy has an office and shows up sometimes "in a baseball hat and shorts and other times in a suit."...

Because My Posse Don't Do Homework, starring Michelle Pfeiffer as a high school teacher, was filmed mostly in rough areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the film's distributor, Buena Vista, provided Pfeiffer with her own bodyguard for the entire length of the production....

Fox-TV's proposed 60 Minutes clone, tentatively titled On Assignment, which was originally supposed to air on Sunday nights opposite CBS's long-dominant 60 Minutes, is now being penciled in for Wednesday nights after Fox's Melrose Place.