Talk about a close shave: Opening up right next to Ice Cube's cinematic barbershop will be a salon run by fellow rapper-turned-thespian Queen Latifah. Variety reports that the Oscar nominee will star in ''Beauty Shop,'' a spinoff of Cube's hit comedy from last fall. Her character will be introduced in a cameo in the upcoming ''Barbershop'' sequel, then get her own movie.
It's no wonder that MGM wants to extend the life of the 2002 hit, which cost about $13 million to make and grossed $75 million, according to Variety's figures. However, ''Beauty Shop'' will spend nearly as much as ''Barbershop'''s entire budget just on Latifah's salary, which Variety says is just under eight figures, her highest payday yet. She earned just $1 million for ''Bringing Down the House,'' but her price has soared with the success of that movie, which topped the box office for three weeks last month and is about to overtake ''How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days'' as the top-grossing movie released so far in 2003 (it's earned about $101 million to date). As with ''House,'' Latifah will also earn a producer's credit on ''Beauty Shop,'' and she'll oversee selections for the soundtrack as well.