Bruce's price is right

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The Independent Culture
With the hedonistic Hollywood producer Don Simpson dead after a lifetime of drugs, sex, and more drugs, it was thought that Hollywood might finally consider taming its excesses. That doesn't mean that the town has to be ruthless in its frugality, mind. Who's going to be bothered about the occasional fleet of limousines or slap-up lunch? Or, for that matter, the odd pounds 24m cheque doled out to a stocky, balding middle-aged man with a paunch?

But this isn't any old stocky, balding middle-aged man with a paunch. This is Bruce Willis, uberhero of Nineties cinema. His accomplishments are rich and varied. He sneered and shot his way through Die Hard in 1988. He did it again for the sequel two years later, and again last year in Die Hard with a Vengeance.

His wages have rocketed with each film, from around $360,000 in 1988 to $14m plus a cut of the pounds 175m profits last year. This latest pay rise has been used, with crushing predictability, to lure him to star in a fourth Die Hard adventure. Nobody minds that in between these towering examples of action cinema at its most audacious, Willis has been involved with some projects of mind-numbing inanity. In Color of Night, he bared his body in an attempt to raise some much-needed attention for the movie. And his treasured project Hudson Hawk replaced Heaven's Gate as the watchword for Hollywood disaster.

As long as the Die Hards keep coming, however, Willis is guaranteed a bank account which should ensure that he never becomes desperate enough to allow Hello! to snap him sipping cocktails beside his kidney-shaped swimming pool.

Talent doesn't enter into it. But, for the record, Willis acted his co- stars off the screen in Pulp Fiction, and has ingeniously cultivated a grumpy persona something like WC Fields with a pump-action shotgun. His wife, Demi Moore, currently takes home pounds 8.5m per film. That's arguably pounds 8.5m too much for the likes of The Juror, Indecent Proposal, The Scarlet Letter (stop me when this starts hurting). But it's surprising how quickly luxuries become necessities. And if it's true that Moore demanded a limousine to ferry her around an island that was just one mile square, the extra cash is going to come in handy.

Add Mom and Pop's earnings to the substantial pocket money that their daughter Rumor trousered for her role alongside Moore in Striptease, and you have a family who need never know the horrors of a car-boot sale.

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