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Chris Tucker: $25M for 'Rush Hour 3'

Chris Tucker | Mike Myers | Elizabeth Vargas | 'Lost'

Chris Tucker: $25M for 'Rush Hour 3'

Did you see the reports last week that "Rush Hour 3" was on track at New Line?

The initial stories said that star Chris Tucker had signed on the dotted line for $20 million. But I can tell you that it was more — $25 million, in fact. That may make him and Will Smith the two highest paid actors in the world, with Tucker having a slight advantage.

Not bad for a comic with few movie credits. Tucker’s career in fact is limited to just the two prior "Rush Hour" movies over the last decade.

Before those movies, he had small parts in "Jackie Brown" and "Money Talks," two 1997 releases. He also appeared in 1997's "The Fifth Element."

“Rush Hour 2” is the highest grossing comedy of all time, so Tucker doesn’t have to take any work he doesn’t want to. The total worldwide take for the first two films was $600 million.

Tucker’s deal with New Line is called “pay or play” — which means if the studio doesn’t make the movie, he still gets the money.

And that’s not all: New Line must be serious because they also gave star Jackie Chan a pay or play deal for $15 million and director Brett Ratner an $8 million deal.

Everyone gets some kind of advance out of that money as the film heads into pre-production for a late August start in New York.

Meantime, Ratner gets to show another side of his career tonight in New York, two weeks before his “X-Men 3: The Last Stand” debuts at the Cannes Film Festival.

A highly regarded and published photographer, Ratner is showing off several of his prints tonight at a private event in Chelsea for 500 of his closest friends, including Russell Simmons, Hugh Jackman and the delectably delicious Halle Berry.

I happened to walk by the dramatic looking site of the show last night — it’s the showroom of a new building of super-high priced luxury apartments called the Altair Lofts at 32 West 18 St.

Ratner’s portraits include Jackman, Al Pacino, Edward Norton, Mariah Carey (maybe the best picture ever taken of her) plus Las Vegas legends Wayne Newtons and Paul Anka, and one of Don Rickles that I long to have on my own wall.

However: these pictures are not for sale. They are just on display until the end of May, when I guess Ratner will scoop them up on the way back to L.A. from Cannes.

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Bugged Me?

Was Anthony Pellicano keeping a dossier on film director Ron Howard and his producing partner Brian Grazer? My sources say yes, indeed he was, and not just because he thought "Howard the Duck" was a bad movie.

Few people recall this now, but back in 2000, Pellicano was hired with much ballyhoo by someone who was sued by Howard and Grazer over an aborted project.

That someone was none other than actor-writer Mike Myers. It was in 2000, after the second "Austin Powers" movie, that Myers sold Imagine Entertainment his script for “Sprockets,” a feature length version of his "Saturday Night Live" sketch starring Dieter.

I actually broke that story. Myers told me about his plans to write “Dieter” as it was first known, with pal Jack Handey, back in 1998. He sold it to Imagine in 1999 as “Sprockets” and the project had everyone who was involved excited. Then, suddenly, Myers wanted out. He told Universal that the script, which he’d written and approved, was no good. And that’s when the trouble started.

"I cannot, in good conscience, accept $20 million and cheat moviegoers who pay their hard-earned money for my work by making a movie with an unacceptable script," Myers reportedly said. After the successes of the “Wayne’s World” and the “Austin Powers” films, “Sprockets” would have earned Myers' first $20 million advance.

In July 2000, Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment filed suit against Myers. They hired Bert Fields. He was represented by Marty Singer and Brian Wolf.

It was a little like an MTV "Celebrity Deathmatch," or the final scenes in “Lord of the Rings.” Everyone suited up in armor. And then, out of nowhere, Myers — who has been always been known as a man with a pleasant disposition — was revealed in a story in the trade paper Variety to have hired Pellicano.

So, follow this: Pellicano, who worked for Fields on most cases, was now working for Singer, Fields’ opponent. It got ugly fast. My sources tell me that Pellicano quickly worked up files on Howard and Grazer.

You’d think it was close to impossible to find dirt on Ron Howard, because outside of Tom Hanks, he is the nicest guy in the film business. And Grazer has a stellar reputation. Together they’ve made “Cocoon,” “Apollo 13,” “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Da Vinci Code,” among many others. Their work truly represents their personalities.

Did Myers know what Pellicano would do when he hired him? Probably not.

And also in Variety, Myers and Singer declined to confirm or deny their hiring of Pellicano.

The case progressed through the summer of 2000 until, as the story goes, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, of Dreamworks, intervened and negotiated a settlement.

No one knows the details. But Myers went right into a new phase of his career that left him working for Dreamworks — first in “Shrek” (2001) and then the very dreadful “Cat in the Hat” (2004), which was a triple play — produced by Dreamworks with Myers’ two former combatants: Universal and Imagine. Coincidence? Hmmm…

In the end, it should be noted that Myers’ Universal battle had a happy ending: he made a fortune from the “Shrek” movies just doing voiceovers.

Cohn & Vargas' Happy Outlook; You Cruise, You Lose

ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas and husband Marc Cohn attended that swell party for Queen Rania of Jordan the other night.

Elizabeth is due to give birth on September 30.

Marc, the great singer songwriter of “Walking in Memphis,” joked that she’s only agreed to take two weeks off when the baby is born.

“Two weeks!” he cried. “I think you get a little longer than that.” Well maybe not. After all, Murphy Brown came right back.

The Cohns have had an eventful year, what with Vargas’ co-anchor Bob Woodruff nearly dying in Iraq and Marc getting shot in his tour van by two cracked-out carjackers.

Luckily, Elizabeth says Woodruff is healing faster than expected. And Cohn told me his incident is well behind him. He’s healed, and all that’s left is a probable trial in Denver.

Cohn’s not thinking about that, though. He’s just finished his first album in eight years, and we should be hearing it before the summer is out…

…"Mission: Impossible 3" had a bad Tuesday, falling $300,000 more at the box office from Monday’s $3.5 million. That means it’s off 80 percent or so since Sunday.

Are people just waiting, or have they really turned on their old pal, Tom Cruise? It didn’t help that he dragged Katie Holmes up to Seattle for a promo appearance three weeks after she gave birth.

Reports were that she looked tired — and rightly so. Mothers don’t usually leave their babies after three weeks. How peculiar this whole saga continues to be.

Now, Cruise is on the cover of Good Housekeeping — an obvious bid to the female audience —and sounds quite manic in Kate Coyne’s story…

'Lost'? You Bet

I’ve no doubt other fans of “Lost” caught the commercial for The Hanso Foundation that ran toward the end of last night’s episode (all seemingly part of the global interactive game based on the hit TV show).

Of course, Hanso is fictitious, but it looked like a real enough ad. On “Lost,” Hanso owns either the island or is funding the Dharma Initiative, which is holding the survivors of flight 815 hostage.

At the end of the commercial, we were directed to look for more information at www.sublymonal.com. That makes two Web sites (Hanso has its own) that seem to be part of the game.

The Hanso site is registered to a domain company in New Jersey. The latter one is listed as from the San Francisco area.

What does it all mean? I’m afraid that all this cleverness is obscuring the fact that no one really knows. “Twin Peaks" turned out to be much the same. In the end, neither Mark Frost nor David Lynch had any idea what all their brilliant ideas added up to.

Now the “Lost” creators face the same problem. Are these really clues, or is it just stuff to throw us off the track?

At the subLYMONal site, there’s just a test pattern and the word “obey” flashes. That’s not very subliminal. Is “Lymon” someone? Is it Frankie Lymon? Is the whole reason for “Lost’ an experiment to test the question “Why do fools fall in love?” Maybe so.

Also, is there a reason that Libby turned up at the airport in Mr. Eko’s flashback, and in the sanitarium in Hurley’s? I sure hope so.

But something tells me that “Lost” will be lucky to get through next season and one more without a clear road map — and not the kind John Locke (not the British political philosopher) drew from his memory.

So what is happening? Are all the characters being tested in an experiment by some kind of crazy group of geniuses?

It’s looking that way. I much preferred them all in purgatory, and “dying” as their way of going to heaven.

But I’m getting the creepy feeling that soon a “Mr. Big” will appear — I don’t mean Chris Noth, but maybe Malcolm McDowell in a white suit, petting a monkey. Or Bob Iger, with a bunch of contracts in his hand.