Actor Nathan Lane has smashed London theatre records by becoming the highest paid West End stage star in history, after stepping in to rescue THE PRODUCERS.

The Broadway award winning show was at crisis point last month (OCT04) when Hollywood veteran Richard Dreyfuss was fired by bosses for failing to master the complicated dance moves.

Desperate to find a replacement co-star for comedian Lee Evans, chiefs begged Lane to reprise his Broadway role for the London version of The Producers. And after much negotiation, Lane settled on a $180,000 (GBP100,000) initial fee plus $90,000 (GBP50,000) a week for his services.

In the musical, Lane plays the conniving theatrical impresario MAX BIALYSTOCK opposite Evans, who's being paid a comparatively tiny $12,600 (GBP7,000) for his role as LEO BLOOM.

However, the show's bosses are reportedly unconcerned about Lane's giant fee - because they're convinced his appeal will help The Producers achieve weekly ticket sales totalling $360,000 (GBP200,000).

10/11/2004 09:08