Meg Ryan has firmed a payday of $10.5 million against 10% of first-dollar gross for Warner Bros.’ “You Have Mail,” at the same time signing a three-year first-look deal at Castle Rock for her Prufrock Pictures. The latter pact starts in January.
Her “Mail” payday betters her previous career best of $8.5 million against 10% of first-dollar gross for “City of Angels.”
In “Mail,” Ryan will rejoin “Sleepless in Seattle” director Nora Ephron and star Tom Hanks. The pic starts shooting in February. Two months later, WB will release the Brad Silberling-directed “Angels,” also starring Nicolas Cage.
The Prufrock deal, sealed with Castle Rock president Martin Shafer, is a homecoming of sorts: Ryan became a star with the label’s first film, the Rob Reiner-directed “When Harry Met Sally …”
Prufrock, a partnership between Ryan and Nina Sadowsky, is currently based at Fox. The company last produced the Lawrence Kasdan-directed “French Kiss” and the telepic “Northern Light,” starring Diane Keaton. Ryan and Sadowsky will hatch new projects for Ryan to produce and star in, while they continue to shepherd a flock of Prufrock stock elsewhere.
That includes the Alan Zweibel-scripted “Love Me Two Times,” which Ryan will star in at Fox 2000; the Bryan Scott-penned animated feature “Shekhar” at Fox Family Films; the Pierce Gardner-scripted “Lost Souls” at New Line; and “Until I Close My Eyes,” written by Pam Falk and Michael Ellis, at Fine Line. Sadowsky continues to run Prufrock with vice president Michael Gorak and director of development Ali Schirmer.
WB wouldn’t comment on Ryan’s payday for “Mail.” While eight-figure salaries for actors are hardly unprecedented — it’s considered automatic that Hanks will get $20 million for “Mail” — Ryan’s escalation puts her among the industry’s top paid actresses.
Julia Roberts’ asking price after “My Best Friend’s Wedding” is now near $15 million, said sources, which puts her at the top of the actress salary pack. Demi Moore got $12.5 million for “Striptease,” Sandra Bullock got at least $11 million for “Speed 2,” and Sigourney Weaver landed $11 million for “Alien Resurrection.”
Michelle Pfeiffer and Jodie Foster also are believed to have either cracked or hovered near the $10 million mark.
While at Turner Pictures, then-president of production Amy Pascal developed “Mail,” a remake of “Shop Around the Corner,” for Ephron.
Ryan’s deals are made by ICM’s Steve Dontanville and attorneys Tom Hansen and Jason Sloane of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller & Hoberman.
HIGH STAKES BETTE: Bette Midler is strongly considering her first TV series, and suitors are promising big money to Miss M, Dish hears. Midler and her All Girls producing partner Bonnie Bruckheimer are fielding offers through their Endeavor agents, with the most serious overtures coming from Carsey-Werner, which boasts success tailoring sitcoms to larger-than-life talents.
It would be the first series starring role for Midler. She and Bruckheimer are already working with Castle Rock as producers of “The Harlettes,” a CBS sitcom about Midler’s backup band, in which Midler will be an off-screen recurring presence. Midler’s TV work includes a memorable guest stint on “Seinfeld,” the CBS musical “Gypsy” and HBO’s revue spec “Diva Las Vegas.” Carsey-Werner declined comment.
EXEC GETS ‘LOST’: Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and New Line exec veep Richard Saperstein have been friends since their Wesleyan U. days. When Saperstein joined ICM, Goldsman was a star client. And when Saperstein joined New Line, he enlisted Goldsman to develop what has grown into the studio’s biggest-budget film to date, the $80 million “Lost in Space.” Goldsman wrote and produces the film.
Thinking that playing a small role would make him a hotshot with his children, Saperstein asked Goldsman if he could play an alien fighter pilot in the film’s opening scene. Goldsman conferred with director Stephen Hopkins; “Fine,” he told Saperstein, “but you’ll have to shave your head.”
A shorn Saperstein reported to the set, only to find that the filmmakers weren’t that serious. “We didn’t really expect him to do it,” Goldsman said. “It was kind of evil, but we did stop short of making him shave his eyebrows.”
Goldsman denied he and Hopkins were getting even for the usual studio executive meddling. “Richard is a very good studio executive, but we liked him bald and he is as good as any bald man I’ve ever seen onscreen,” said Goldsman. “There’s Yul Brynner, Telly Savalas, Dick Saperstein.” Saperstein the actor currently has no agency representation.
PHOENIXES RISE IN TANDEM: Summer and Rain Phoenix are surfacing as important elements in several films. Sisters of Joaquin and the late River Phoenix, Summer and Rain just finished acting together in “I Woke Up Early the Day I Died” for Muse Pictures. Summer also wrapped TriStar’s “The Party” and has been set to star opposite Matthew Lillard in the James Merindino-directed “S.L.C. Punk,” about what happened when a punk revolution hit strait-laced Salt Lake City in 1985. Sam Maydew and Peter Ward produce, with Jan DeBont and Michael Peyser exec producing.
She’ll then star with Dominique Swain in Kushner-Locke’s “Girl,” with Jonathan Kahn directing, and Brad Wyman, Chris Hanley and Jeff Most producing.
Rain just signed to co-star in “Spent,” which Gil Cates Jr. directs. The story of a few days in the lives of Hollywood kids, the film is produced by Rana Joy Glickman, with Cates, Jordan Summers and Jordan Zevon exec producing.
The Phoenix deals were made by agent Iris Burton.