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Sour 'Lemony'

Will ''Lemony Snicket'' make it to the big screen? Disagreements over budget lead the producer and director of the planned adaptation -- starring Jim Carrey -- to walk out

Jim Carrey | 'SNICKET' SNIT Carrey is said to have been quiet during all the ''Unfortunate'' infighting
Image credit: Jim Carrey: Kevin Winter/ImageDirect
'SNICKET' SNIT Carrey is said to have been quiet during all the ''Unfortunate'' infighting

The fate of the film version of Daniel Handler's best-selling Lemony Snicket books, ''A Series of Unfortunate Events,'' is looking as precarious as that of the woefully orphaned Baudelaire siblings. The primary problem: the proposed $100 million budget. Nearly $10 million was saved by moving the shoot from New York City to Wilmington, N.C., but when Paramount demanded another $5 million trim last December, producer Scott Rudin (''The Hours'') left the project and director Barry Sonnenfeld (''Men in Black'') publicly criticized the studio's bottom-line stance.

In January, Sonnenfeld himself exited after DreamWorks agreed to cofinance, with the studio's Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald overseeing production. ''Barry got a little tired of hearing Walter talk about how much Walter had done on ['MIBII'],'' says a Columbia executive. One of Sonnenfeld's CAA reps disputes reports that the director's departure was involuntary: ''It was an honest disagreement over budget.'' (Parkes declined to comment.)

Jim Carrey, who is set to star as villainous Count Olaf, is now watching from the sidelines. ''Jim took a small [pay] cut on his last film,'' explains a source close to the actor, referring to the upcoming ''Bruce Almighty,'' ''and he didn't feel it was his job to get between the director and the studio.''

Originally posted Feb 04, 2003 Published in issue #694 Feb 07, 2003 Order article reprints