The past few months have been rough for Jim Carrey. In May, 20th Century Fox delayed his comedy Used Guys after the budget ballooned to $112 million. Then Paramount postponed production on his adventure-comedy Ripley's Believe It or Not due to script and budgetary concerns. Recently, reports surfaced that his upcoming thriller The Number 23 had tested poorly. And so Carrey responded last month, firing his agent of 15 years and signing with Creative Artists Agency. The move shocked Hollywood Carrey and his agent Nick Stevens of United Talent were neighbors and friends, and had made each other very wealthy and left many wondering whether the pressure to contain star salaries would jeopardize even the most successful Hollywood relationships.
''It's a red flag,'' says one industry insider. ''It's an indication that people need to reevaluate their business model.'' There's no doubt that in a world where $20 million paydays are increasingly rare and even Tom Cruise can see his deal canceled, agents are feeling the heat more than ever. But if they are sweating through their Armani suits, they're not ready to admit it just yet. ''Agents aren't afraid all of a sudden,'' says a source at a major agency. ''The balance of power doesn't shift that quickly.'' Regardless of the larger trend, one thing's for sure: Carrey's new reps at CAA had better be planning an almighty comeback for their new superstar client otherwise this series of unfortunate events could continue.