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Fox’s ‘Lies’ gets Arnold

By mid-July, Arnold Schwarzenegger will be in front of the cameras on James Cameron’s “True Lies,” an action-comedy that will be positioned as 20th Century Fox’s summer tentpole release Stateside in 1994, according to Fox chairman Peter Chernin.

Comedy marks Cameron’s first film under Lightstorm Entertainment’s multiyear worldwide distrib agreement, inked last summer. It will also be the first pic greenlighted in Cameron’s exclusive five-year, 12-pic financing and domestic distrib deal signed with Fox in April 1992.

Cameron will produce and direct the film, which reunites him with his “Terminator” star.

Schwarzenegger’s contract was negotiated by Lou Pitt, his longtime agent at ICM.

After a long incubation period, Cameron has a camera-ready script of his “True Lies” (working title), a tale “inspired” by Claude Zidi’s French comedy “La Totale!” according to Lightstorm prexy Larry Kasanoff, who will exec produce with Bobby Shriver.

Stephanie Austin will also produce and Rae Sanchini will associate produce.

Schwarzenegger will star as “a specialist working for an anti-nuclear terrorist task force who is suddenly faced with some unexpected family problems, ” Lightstorm said in a statement.

A Lightstorm insider said the company bought story rights to the original, which spins around a bored librarian who is rejuvenated by the discovery that her dull husband has a secret life.

Kasanoff assured that the budget won’t be in the range of “Terminator 2,” which reportedly came in at $ 88 million. In a separate interview, Chernin noted that Fox’s “contribution is capped. This is very much Lightstorm’s movie.”

Fox advances a fixed percentage of the negative cost up to the cap — estimated to be around 30% of $ 50 million, or $ 15 million — and shoulders 100 % of P&A expenses in exchange for North American distribution rights.

Confirmation of Schwarzenegger’s commitment comes after months of speculation about the star’s next film after the upcoming “Last Action Hero” for Columbia.

Still on the back burner for Schwarzenegger are Ivan Reitman’s “Oh Baby, “”Crusades,” for Paul Verhoeven at Carolco, “Sweet Tooth” at Imagine and “Sgt. Rock,” which is on Warner’s “coming” list.

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