‘Showgirls’ star Gershon segues to Eszterhas’ ‘Sin’

The R-rated Paul Verhoeven-Joe Eszterhas collaboration “Basic Instinct” put Sharon Stone on course for international stardom, and many are expecting the new Verhoeven-Eszterhas pic “Showgirls” to do the same for its two female leads. The steamy Vegas-set saga opens Sept. 22 with a much-ballyhooed NC-17 rating.

The film stars Elizabeth Berkley and Gina Gershon, and while Berkley is highlighted as the film’s lead, Morgan Creek Prods. chairman- CEO James G. Robinson has signed Gershon to a pay-or-play deal to star in the Eszterhas-scripted “Original Sin.”

Gershon will more than double her price quote, earning a high-six-figure salary for “Sin.” The film will begin production early next year, with a director yet to be named. Robinson and vice chairman-chief operating officer Gary Barber made the deal after getting an advance peek at Verhoeven’s “Showgirls,” in which Gershon plays a veteran dancer who becomes a rival to Berkley professionally and romantically. Gershon’s deal was made by her UTA reps Gavin Polone, David deCamillo, Adam Isaacs and her manager, Kimberly Hines of Original Film.

Robinson, who produces, reminds that Morgan Creek has shown a knack for getting stars early, from Jim Carrey in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” to Alicia Silverstone in “The Crush.” He feels Gershon is next.

“Everybody’s touting Elizabeth Berkley, but I saw the film and felt Gina is the right one for ‘Original Sin,’ ” said Robinson. “She’s classy, but she’s very earthy and very sexy. We got the right actress in the right role at the right time.”

Eszterhas also feels strongly that Gershon has the best chance to jump to stardom. “As good as Elizabeth is, I think Gina steals ‘Showgirls,’ ” he said. “She is a superb actress. Of course she’s sexy, but she brings a sense of nuance and shadows to her performance that I think is rare. She reminds me with her fire of a young Anna Magnani.” Eszterhas will exec produce “Original Sin” with Barber and Bill Todman Jr.

Robinson said he’s fast-tracking “Original Sin,” which he picked up last month from Cinergi, repaying the $600,000 against $1.55 million price that Cinergi shelled out in 1991.

Gershon will play a woman who enlists a talkshow host to put her on his show to find an ex-lover. The lover in question shows up, and our heroine is soon involved with both him and the talkshow host.

Gershon has been involved in more triangles than a geometry teacher lately. After “Showgirls,” she starred in “Bound,” a drama in which she plays a parolee who falls in love with a bombshell (Jennifer Tilly) who’s dating a mobster played by Joe Pantoliano. Gershon is also in talks to join an ensemble cast in Fine Line’s “Little City,” which will wrap before “Sin” begins next year.

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