‘Sahara’ writer hit with bill

Cussler must pay Anschutz close to $14 million

“Sahara” didn’t just flop at the box office, it’s cost novelist Clive Cussler a chunk of change as well.

The author has been ordered by a Los Angeles Super Court judge to pony up nearly $14 million in legal fees after he failed to win a lawsuit against the pic’s producer, Crusader Entertainment.

In 2004, Cussler sued the production company — owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz — claiming it breached a contract that gave him final approval of the pic’s script, an adaptation of his bestseller of the same name.

It was hoped that the pic, distribbed by Paramount, would launch a franchise, starring Matthew McConaughey, but plans fizzled after pic wound up earning $69 million in 2005. It cost a reported $160 million to produce.

Cussler’s been on the losing end of the suit since 2007, when a jury ruled in favor of Crusader, which accused the author of inflating the number of novels that “Sahara” sold. The jury ordered Cussler to pay $5 million at the time.

But Crusader went one step further and sued Cussler to pay its $18 million in legal fees, as well. A judge this week dropped the amount to $13.9 million.

Cussler is appealing the order. But should he end up paying the amount, the case will have cost him $27 million once his own legal fees are taken into account.

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