Is the A-list dead? We keep reading about how Hollywood no longer needs nor can afford world-famous movie stars, how the new economics of filmmaking and the waning appeal of once-bankable actors means that the days of the $20 million salary are over. And that seems to be true - until the next $20 million deal comes along.

This past weekend saw both another obituary for the Hollywood star system (in the UK Telegraph) and a deal worth at least $20 million for Sacha Baron Cohen. Clearly, someone in Hollywood (in this case, Paramount), is still willing to pony up the big bucks, at least for the right star in the right project.

According to Deadline New York, the Baron Cohen deal, which he shopped around to all the studios last week, is for a movie in which he'll play a dual role, a goat herder and an ousted foreign dictator who gets lost in America. The plot is described as 'Coming to America' meets 'Trading Places.' (Or for those whose memories stretch back a bit further, a gloss on Mark Twain's 'The Prince and the Pauper.') The deal is reportedly worth $20 million up front to the 'Borat' star, against 20 percent of the first-dollar gross, meaning he also gets a back-end of 20 percent of whatever the movie makes in theaters. By Deadline's estimate, the movie could earn him up to $80 million.
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