Myers gets $20 mil for ‘Sprockets’

Mike Myers may be hailing “Austin Powers” as the Spy Who Bagged Me $20 million.

Myers is poised to sign a two-picture deal with Universal and Imagine Entertainment that will pay him $20 million to star in “Sprockets.” Imagine chairman Grazer then gets first crack at a second Myers-hatched project, also at that salary.

Myers had already been paid for scripting “Sprockets”; the $20 million figure is strictly for his acting. The project is based on the character he created in numerous “Saturday Night Live” skits: an avant-garde German movie critic/talkshow host.

Grazer last year signed Myers to write the script (Daily Variety, April 7, 1998). At the time, he was expected to be paid $10 million against 10% of that box office gross. Since then, the market for Myers has changed dramatically, after “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” became the biggest grossing comedy of the year. (Myers is talking with New Line about a third “Powers” pic.)

It’s unclear whether his backend for “Sprockets” will be adjusted at the same level as his salary. Grazer and Universal co-chairman Stacey Snider worked closely together on developing the project with Myers.

Most studios and producers are loath to admit they’re paying such a gigantic salary, but Imagine’s Grazer not only confirmed it, but added he’s happy to be paying Myers the big bucks.

“His biggest successes have been projects he hatched, making him much more than an actor for hire. … I’m proud to be the guy who gets to pay him the big dollars.”

In the comedy, Dieter (Myers) heads to the U.S. to solve an important crime: the kidnapping of his beloved monkey.

Eight-figure acting salaries have proven to pay off in comedies, which not only rake in big bucks but leave room for sequels. Among comic actors, Jim Carrey was the charter member of the club and has quietly surpassed that salary mark; Adam Sandler will get $20 million for his next film, “Little Nicky”; Eddie Murphy will get $20 million for Imagine’s upcoming sequel to “The Nutty Professor.” Knocking on the door is Chris Tucker, the “Rush Hour” star who might well hit that salary on his next comedy. Myers is repped by CAA.

TITLE CHANGE, ANYONE?: With movie advertising under scrutiny in Washington, what better time for a new movie called “Ugly As Shit,” a starring vehicle for Jamie Foxx?

Warner Bros. just purchased a pitch by scribe Philip Stark, and Foxx is keen to play the ugliest man in the world who finds a serum to cure his genetic disorder, only to find an unsettling side effect: he cannot be faithful to the only woman he’s ever loved and the only one who loved him while he was ugly.

The pic’s being produced by Ed Decter and John J. Strauss (two of the four scripters on last year’s “There’s Something About Mary”) and Foxx’s manager Jaime King. All parties maintain they’ll try to keep the title intact, though phone connection made it impossible to ascertain whether they did it with straight faces.

Foxx, who will exec produce the pic, is quickly establishing himself as a feature commodity. He’ll play the phenom quarterback in Oliver Stone’s gridiron drama “Any Given Sunday” and is about to shoot “Bait” this fall with Kris Kristofferson, and heads back for the fourth season of the WB’s “The Jamie Foxx Show.”

Decter & Strauss have “Head Over Heels,” which is currently shooting for Robert Simonds and U. Their series “Odd Man Out” debuts this fall on ABC. Stark, formerly a writer on “South Park” and “That ’70s Show,” brought the “Ugly” script to Decter & Strauss, after selling the spec “Dude, Where’s My Car” to Alcon Ent. earlier this year.

CAA and attorney Nina Shaw repped Foxx with managers Jaime and Marcus King, while Bruce Kaufman of Broder Kurland Webb & Uffner and attorney Jeff Finkelstein repped the producers. Stark’s deal was made by attorney Jared Levine and Broder Kurland’s Brian Sher.

RED LIGHT GREEN LIGHT: With star-driven comedies ringing up the cash registers this summer, what’s the market value of a producer like Robert Simonds, who’s been cranking them out since “Problem Child” in 1990?

Simonds, partway through an overall first-look deal at Universal, is in play, with several studios chasing him. His tight U relationship was forged with Casey Silver, and several of his biggest hits came on pics U passed on, such as “The Wedding Singer” at New Line and “The Waterboy” at Disney.

Rumored suitors: Disney, Fox, Warner Bros., and MGM (the latter of which is said to have conjured up a exec/producer title with stock options, greenlighting power, etc.)

While that latter scenario might seem unlikely now — MGM has been denying for weeks that talks were underway — Simonds will likely be making a change of address, sources said. He’s wrapped “Foolproof” and is shooting “Head Over Heels” at U, and is prepping “See Spot Run” at Warner Bros., with Martin Lawrence set to star. Simonds declined comment.

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