Hollywood's Soup Line

Maybe one of the reasons so many celebrities showed up in Washington for inauguration is that there's not much work for them back in Hollywood. Variety reports that "studios are proceeding cautiously as they wait for the SAG dispute to play itself out. And they are using economic hard times to slash talent salaries to the point where, even when the business is back, it won't nearly be the same as it used to be." Disney has asked Nicholas Cage to cut his price for the next National Treasure sequel; Mickey Rourke may be resurgent, but Marvel has offered him only $250,000 to play the villain in the next Iron Man film; and Samuel L. Jackson refused to play Nick Fury when Marvel similarly lowballed him. "Business models and budgets are changing, and agencies have had to face the fact that studios are no longer doing the deals they once were willing to make with artists," one studio production chief told Variety.