Paramount Pays Sacha Baron Cohen A Fortune For His Goat Herder Comedy
The logic seems to be that, even though Bruno was a gigantic flop for Universal, Sacha Baron Cohen is still a bankable movie star. There's nothing to base this on, really, since the actor has never led a movie that wasn't based on one of his Ali G Show characters, but that isn't stopped Paramount from throwing a ton-- a ton of money at him.
Deadline Hollywood is reporting on the ridiculous series of events that led Paramount to pick up Cohen's comedy pitch in which he plays both a goat herder and a deposed foreign dictator. The studio wanted the pitch so badly that they sent a goat dressed in a Paramount T-shirt to WME, the talent agency presenting the pitch, which wandered the halls until it started pooping on the floor and was removed. As a reward for their trouble Paramount will be paying Cohen $20 million up front and also giving him 20% of the first-dollar gross, a number that's unheard of in an era when star salaries have been shrinking in favor of movies led by Transformers or Na'vi.
As for the film itself, it's described as a kind of Coming To America meets Trading Places, which I guess means we can assume that both the goat herder and the dictator wind up in the United States, and then are mistaken for one another somehow. Cohen is starring in the film and also writing it along with Curb Your Enthusiasm veterans Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer, and David Mandel. It sounds like a can't-lose comedy premise, but it's still a little mysterious as to why this is such a huge deal money-wise. Still, an upcoming comedy with a premise that doesn't immediately feel insulting? That's something worth getting excited about.
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