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U outbids Disney to lay down ‘Supernatural Law’

Universal has made a seven-figure deal to turn the Batton Lash comic “Supernatural Law” into a live-action feature, sources said.

U bested Disney in bidding for the feature, which will be scripted by Stephen Mazur (who with Paul Guay wrote “Liar, Liar”) and S.S. Wilson (who with Brent Maddock wrote “Wild Wild West”). The film will be produced by Nancy Roberts of Stampede Entertainment and Annabel Jankel of Cucumber Prods.

Sources said the writers and producers will be paid seven figures each for the deal, with a healthy six-figure sum paid for rights to the comic. It’s Universal’s biggest investment in a high-concept sci-fi since it partnered with DreamWorks to pay $500,000 against $1.5 million plus $3.5 million to get Steve Oedekerk to direct “Cowboys and Aliens,” a pitch that will become a comic book.

Like the summer hit “Men in Black,” “Law” also originated from an underground comic, but took a slightly different plot path. Whereas the protagonists in the former film defended the earth from the scum of the universe, those in “Supernatural Law” defend the scum of the universe — in court. The idea is that even ghouls and monsters have legal rights and deserve representation.

“Supernatural Law” was sold based on a treatment and a pitch by Mazur and Wilson. Lash began the comic as a weekly feature in the National Law Journal, and then formed his own imprint, Exhibit A Press, which now publishes the comic book. Stampede is a production consortium of Roberts, Lou Malacarne, the “Wild Wild West” team of Maddock and Wilson, and director Ron Underwood.

It’s the company’s second project, after the Underwood-directed “Heart and Souls.”

Malacarne brought the “Supernatural Law” concept to Universal exec veep Kevin Misher. The deal was brokered by lawyers Harold Brown and Larry Rose of Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown, a firm which limits its representation to mortals.

ALEXANDER’S ART: After completing a four-year stint as chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, Jane Alexander tendered her resignation Tuesday to President Clinton. After working with Clinton over a transition period to name a successor, Alexander will return to the private sector — showbiz.

Last time Alexander worked on a film, Joan Hyler was her agent at William Morris. Hyler, who has repped Alexander for 20 years, is now Alexander’s manager, and confirmed the soon-to-be-former arts maven is now looking at offers.

One is a drama series by a network and production company Hyler declined to name. She has also been approached by publishers to write a book about her four years in government and the state of the arts, and is a cinch for the lecture circuit if she wants to go that route. The movie offers should come around once the film community realizes Alexander is no longer off-limits.

Hyler said Alexander was prohibited from working in the private sector while she chaired the NEA, and will continue that policy until she and the president find a new chairman. During that transition period, Hyler will have lined up Alexander’s dance card.

LAUPER LOOMING: Ever since she made a memorable Emmy-winning guest starring appearance on “Mad About You” several seasons ago, singer Cyndi Lauper has been courted by NBC honcho Warren Littlefield. Dish hears the Peacock Web topper’s persistence might be paying off. NBC is in serious talks with Lauper to develop a sitcom. Lauper is pregnant, and a show would provide a steady work schedule. If she signs, NBC will then try to align her with top writers to build a show around her quirky persona.

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