Today’s secret word is “$”

On an otherwise slow movie news day, Variety‘s Michael Fleming is on  a small role, and the theme is filthy lucre.

* Writers Aline Brosh McKenna and Simon Kinberg have obtained $2 million from Paramount on the basis of a pitch for an unnamed upcoming project to be produced by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot. Especially in this climate, it’s a surprisingly tidy sum. It sort of brings back to mind the Hollywood of a couple of decades back when the studios were handing out sometimes surprisingly generous money for options to even relatively unknown writers on the basis of a pitch — though McKenna and Kinberg are far from unknown and the Abrams imprimatur surely didn’t hurt.

No details about the story have emerged but Kinberg is associated with lighthearted action pieces, like the upcoming “Sherlock Holmes,” while McKenna has worked on lighthearted feminine-friendly material like “The Devil Wears Prada.”

A Fistful of Dollars

* “The Art of Making Money” is an adaptation of journalist Jason Kersten’s nonfiction account of the career of counterfeiter Art Williams. Director D.J. Caruso (“Disturbia,” “Red Eye”) and Junior James Kirk Chris Pine are “in negotiations” with Paramount for the pic.

* Meanwhile at Fox, any action comedy headlined by Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, to be directed by James Mangold (“3:10 to Yuma“), co-written by busy master scribe Scott Frank  (“The Lookout” “Get Shorty,” “Minority Report,” etc.) and backed up by all-star supporting is likely to be a pricey proposition. You’d think they could afford a better title than “Knight & Day.”

  

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