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Sacha Baron Cohen Bags Big Money to Play Deposed Dictator

“Deadline Hollywood” proprietress Nikki Finke and her poached Variety scribe Mike Fleming reported, via “Deadline New York” on Friday, that Sacha Baron Cohen, who scored with “Borat” but stumbled with “Brüno,” has wooed Paramount to back his newest comedy vehicle. The studio and star are at the fully committed stage, say Finke and Fleming, and Cohen is set to make a boatload of money for his latest act, “and the only way it’s not made is if Sasha does not approve the script.” –KA

Deadline New York:

Said another source: “Not only is it a studio greenlight based on a pitch, but they’ve also gone to that pre-recession place by offering first-dollar gross. That’s what makes this deal huge. Sasha can make $30M-$50M-$80M here. Whereas under recent deals he’d get his $20M upfront — and then he’d bottom out.” Paramount, meanwhile, “didn’t accept everything that WME was asking for,” a source tells us. But the studio “feels good” about the relatively modest $65M budget that was agreed upon. (Deal details below).

In the laugher, Sacha Baron Cohen (repped by WME) plays dual roles: both a goat herder and a deposed foreign dictator who gets lost in the United States. Cohen wants to keep the storyline close to the vest, but we’re told it’s in the spirit of Coming To America meets Trading Places. It will be his next film. Not only is Cohen starring, but he’s also writing the film with the three Curb Your Enthusiasm scribes — writers Alec Berg (repped by UTA), Jeff Schaffer (repped by UTA), and David Mandel (repped by WME) — and all four are producing.

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