Stone will take ‘Basic’ chemistry

Settlement puts sequel back on track

Actress Sharon Stone’s three-year lawsuit against producers Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar over their failure to make “Basic Instinct 2” has been settled in principle, and MGM is in active negotiations with the producers over financing the pic.

MGM, which picked up sequel rights to the 1992 thriller hit in the Carolco bankruptcy, will distribute, if the pic gets made.

“We’ve reached a settlement in principle, but it hasn’t been signed yet,” Stone’s attorney Bert Fields told Daily Variety. Fields said the complex settlement agreement includes a potential contract for “Basic Instinct 2.”

“We are in the process of working out all those things, and we all believe the picture will be made,” he added. The settlement contains provisions for settling the case even if the movie doesn’t get made, Fields said, but he did not elaborate on the terms of the settlement.

Production deal points and financing of the picture appear to be the major issues yet to be resolved in the negotiations between MGM and Vajna and Kassar’s C-2 production company to make the film. An MGM spokesman said the studio may put up a small part of the financing, but C-2 would be responsible for raising most of the costs. MGM was never a party to the lawsuit.

Current working title of the pic is “Risk Addiction.” Title was changed more than a year ago when it appeared that Stone would not be part of a sequel due to the lawsuit.

At the time the name was changed, MGM vice chairman and chief operating officer Chris McGurk said, “Actors and directors have always responded strongly to the script, and we thought it would work as ‘Basic Instinct 2’ or a standalone.” With Stone back aboard, the “Basic Instinct 2” title may be reinstated.

Vajna and Kassar are represented by Brad Brian of Munger, Tolles and Olsen. Brian did not return calls Tuesday about the settlement.

Stone sued in 2001, claiming she had an oral pay-or-play agreement with Vajna and Kassar under which she would receive $14 million against 15% of gross receipts to reprise the role of Catherine Tramell, the icepick-wielding murderess, in the sequel to “Basic Instinct.” Original had a worldwide gross of $400 million, with domestic gross of $117 million.

The sequel was first set to commence production in 2000, with financing by Intermedia and distribution by MGM. But the project was star-crossed from the beginning. After Michael Douglas turned down a repeat performance as the male lead, the project went through several proposed replacements and directors. Project was close with John McTiernan directing, but he bailed when Stone refused to approve Benjamin Bratt as her male costar. Vajna and Kassar then claimed they never had a deal with Stone. At that point, she sued.

The original “Basic Instinct” had its share of contention on its way to the bigscreen. So pressurized was the original shoot that when director Paul Verhoeven suffered a nosebleed, it was widely rumored that he had been decked by Douglas. Verhoeven and Douglas feuded with screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, who first was unwilling to change a word of his script, then advocated an overhaul when gay groups objected to his decision to make the murderess bisexual. Stone claimed she’d been tricked into not wearing panties for the memorable interrogation scene.

(Marc Graser contributed to this report.)

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