Cage wrestling match

Warners, Par battle over actor availability

Paramount Pictures and Creative Artists Agency are swapping legal letters in a tiff over Nicolas Cage’s commitment and availability for Par’s “Snake Eyes” and for Warner Bros.’ “Superman.” The brouhaha — which has escalated in the past week —centers around agreements the actor made through his reps CAA and Brillstein-Grey with both studios.

Both Warner Bros. and Paramount believed they had Cage locked for the dates they wanted. Apparently, that is not the case.

The problem has drawn in Viacom Entertainment Group chairman Jonathan Dolgen, Warner Bros. co-chairmen Bob Daly and Terry Semel, CAA’s Richard Lovett and Brillstein-Grey’s Brad Grey to try to come to an agreement.

At the center of the dispute is whether WB’s “Superman” was in the first position with Cage over Par’s “Snake Eyes.”

One side believes that Cage committed to a pay-or-play deal with Paramount on “Snake Eyes” that was contingent upon his commitment to his “Superman” role and documents support that position.

Paramount, on the other hand, believes that CAA waived that contingency when CAA client Will Smith fell out of “Snake Eyes” earlier this year. Smith left the project after Paramount declined to meet Smith’s fee.

CAA has been trying to work out the schedules for both pictures and held separate discussions with both studios when Cage became interested in “Superman.” (Daily Variety, Feb. 21).

Warner Bros. wanted to start “Superman” Oct. 1. After speaking with execs at Par, CAA suggested to WB a possible Nov. 1 date for “Superman,” a date that would not fly with the Burbank-based studio. CAA continued to try to work out dates for both pictures. CAA client Al Pacino has been in talks with Brian DePalma about stepping in for Smith.

The situation puts CAA in a tough spot, because the tenpercentery reps both DePalma and Cage. Cage has upcoming movies at both Paramount and Warner Bros., with “Face Off” at Par and “City of Angels” at WB.

The parties involved in the dispute either were unavailable or chose not to comment.

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