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De Palma, MGM mine ‘Gold’

Healthy seven-figure deal to write and helm

Brian De Palma has signed a muscular deal with MGM for a spec script tentatively titled “Nazi Gold,” which he wrote with former film critic Jay Cocks.

The director of “Mission: Impossible” was asking for more than $10 million — a sum that was to cover De Palma’s fee as di-rector and producer as well as Cocks’ writing payment — but will receive somewhat less than that.

“It was a creative financial arrangement,” MGM president and chief operating officer Michael Nathanson told Daily Variety from New York. “It’ll be a good one for everyone.”

MGM was a logical place for the script to land, given De Palma’s long-standing relationship with chairman and CEO Frank Mancuso, who was at Paramount when De Palma made “The Untouchables” there in 1987.

The deal closed on Thursday after MGM executives made a hurried assessment of the script, which had reportedly made the rounds at other studios.

“We moved with dispatch,” Nathanson said. “We got the script and within 24 hours we had the basic parameters of a deal.”

Production will start in the fall, and will shoot “all over the world,” Nathanson said.

The action-thriller, intended as a PG-13 picture, recalls an abhorrent historical fact — the Nazis’ practice of melting down the gold teeth and jewelry of Jews to produce gold bullion — and brings it into the present-day controversy over Nazi holdings in Swiss banks. In the story, a commercial producer becomes involved in a plot to steal Nazi bullion from a Swiss vault, a heist undertaken while the producer is supposedly shooting a commercial in the bank. The thieves’ intent is to give the gold bars to the descendants of Holocaust victims.

“We’re having discussions now with certain people for the cast,” Nathanson said. At CAA, where president Richard Lovett represents De Palma, a spokeswoman confirmed the deal.

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