DOUGH It looks like ”Big Momma’s House” meant big money for Martin Lawrence. The comedian is in talks to become the newest member of the $20 million per flick elite. In fact, Variety reports that Lawrence is negotiating with Columbia for two pictures — ”National Security” and ”Blue Streak 2” — which would earn him more than $20 million each. This puts his paycheck on par with such luminaries as Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Tucker — the only other Tinseltown comedians whose talent commands that kind of dough. (Mike Meyers would have earned a similar amount for ”Dieter” if the flick had worked out.) It’s a significant raise for Lawrence, who is earning a measly $16.5 million for his current project, ”The Black Knight.” So few can claim the illustrious honor of having a salary higher than the GNP of many third world countries.
FOILED CRIME A worried Tennessee mom has thwarted a plot to murder ‘N Sync, according to the Gallatin, Tennessee, News Examiner. Police were called into action when the mother of a 17 year old boy found a folder containing details of a plan to attack the boy band. The unidentified teen wanted to rob a local gun shop (killing its employees if necessary) then travel to Atlanta on the evening of Oct. 21, when ‘N Sync is scheduled to play the Philips Arena. He is reported to be undergoing psychiatric evaluation.
TV DEALS ”ER” exec producer Neal Baer has ditched the medical series after nearly seven years. The Harvard trained doctor, whose expertise has helped give ”ER” its all important verisimilitude since its 1994 debut, will now take on chief writing responsibilities at NBC’s ”Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” ”It was over creative differences,” Baer told Variety. ”I have utmost affection and admiration for the cast and crew. But I’ve been there for seven years. I felt it was time to move on.” Baer had just completed work on ”ER”’s Thanksgiving episode — starring Sally Field — when he decided to quit…. Spike Lee may be hard on the TV biz in his latest flick, ”Bamboozled”, but he’s hardly ignoring its power. The director is in a pact with Studios USA to develop and exec produce several drama series and comedies. ”I’ve always wanted to do television. It’s a frontier I’ve never been able to crack,” Lee told Daily Variety. ”Executives in television, and in the feature business, think that the white masses are more accepting of black people in comedy roles than in something a little more challenging. There’s a vast underestimation of the audience.” Still, Martin Lawrence will gladly accept his paycheck.
BOOKS Posh Spice (a.k.a. Victoria Beckham) closed a $1.5 million deal with Penguin for her memoirs — a record amount for a British celeb. Tom Weldon, who commissioned the ”work,” says he believes the down payment on the 100,000 word book — that will include dishy stories about Posh’s soccer star hubby David Beckham — is well worth the price. ”Victoria Beckham is probably Britain’s most famous celebrity today. She is Britain’s new Princess Diana,” the publisher told Reuters.
COUPLED Okay. This is the LAST time we cover developments in Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres‘ love lives. But we thought EW.com readers might be comforted to know that both members of the estranged couple have happily hooked up with new pals. According to just about every gossip page published in the English language, Heche is dating camerman Coley Laffoon, whom she met while he was working on a recent DeGeneres comedy tour. DeGeneres has been hanging out with actress Alexandra Hedison, 31. Meanwhile, the rest of us shall continue to embrace the irrevocable solitude of existence.
REEL SCENES Angelina Jolie‘s upcoming flick ”Tomb Raider” will feature scenes filmed at Cambodia’s ancient Angkor Wat temple. The labyrinthine complex — known for its mind blowing delicate carvings and nearby deadly land mines — has not been captured on film in a major production since 1964’s ”Lord Jim.” Oh, if only we’d known! All it takes is a tightly clad bee stung lipped babe to get the Khmer Rouge to chill out.