PHILADELPHIA'S BEEN looking for a champion for 25 years, and finally we're No. 1.
Thank you, Will Smith.
According to Forbes.com, the Pride of Overbrook is the top-paid actor in Hollywood.
For the fiscal year that ended June 1, Will took in an estimated $80 million in movie-star salary.
Unlike most overpaid hacks, however, Will's wise choices pay off at the box office. He's the first actor in history with eight straight $100-million box-office hits. These days that makes him more bankable than . . . a bank.
No. 2 on the list is Johnny Depp, who is still counting treasure from his "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise to the yo-ho-ho tune of $72 million.
In third place are "Saturday Night Live" alums Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy ($55 million each), whose most recent films, "The Love Guru" and "Meet Dave" respectively, haven't grossed $55 million together.
Leonardo DiCaprio is next at $45 million, followed by Bruce Willis at $41 million (thank goodness for "Die Hard") and Ben Stiller at $40 million, despite "The Heartbreak Kid." Some box-office duds surrounding "National Treasure 2" didn't stop Nicolas Cage from earning $38 million. Cage is followed by two more "SNL" alums, Will Ferrell at $31 million and Adam Sandler at $30 million.
Cameron Diaz is the top-paid actress at $50 million, followed by Keira Knightley ($32 million) and Jennifer Aniston ($27 million).
So, with all these actors bringing home suitcases full of money, who gives studios the best value? Of course, given Hollywood's willingness to waste, it's someone not even on the list: Vince Vaughn.
According to Forbes, Vince brought in $14.73 of gross income for every dollar he was paid for "The Break-up," "Wedding Crashers" and "Dodgeball." The second-most budget-worthy? Tobey Maguire ($13.44), thanks to the "Spider-Man" sequels and "Seabiscuit," followed by Julia Roberts ($13.19), who must not be earning much scratch because "Charlie Wilson's War" was no blockbuster.
Rounding out the top 10 are Brad Pitt ($12.73), Naomi Watts and Matt Damon ($12.16 each), George Clooney ($11.56), Jennifer Aniston ($10.48), Hugh Jackman ($9.90) and Ben Stiller ($9.50).
Aniston and Stiller are thus the only two actors in the best-return category who are also among the highest paid. You'd think, with bean-counters running all the studios now, they might have noticed an imbalance.
Our man Smith, Will Smith, makes big hits, but those hits ain't cheap, so he returns only $5.64 for every dollar spent on him. But that's better than Jim Carrey ($4.11), Tom Cruise ($3.99) and Nicole Kidman. For every dollar studios pay Nicole, they get back $1.01.
What set off Bale?
According to London's Daily Mail, "Dark Knight" Christian Bale went off on his momma after she insulted his wife.
Sources close to Bale, not that they're biased or anything, said that "Christian was stressed, but he didn't lay a finger on anyone. He just got very loud.
"Christian's attitude is that this was his mother's fault because she became very provocative in an argument they were having," the anonymous source added. "Things got out of control and he now says he wishes he just left the room."
Meanwhile, TMZ.com reports that Christian recently went Bale-istic on the set of "Terminator 4" when the cinematographer reportedly messed up a shot.
TMZ.com claims that Bale screamed "I will kick your a--," along with other profanities.
_ Us Weekly reports that Ethan Hawke and his new wife, Ryan Shawhughes, welcomed Clementine Jane Hawke last Friday in NYC. As expected, they're "thrilled."
Ethan met Ryan when she was nannying his two children (Maya, 10, and Levon, 6) with ex-wife Uma Thurman. They reportedly did not start dating until after Ethan and Uma split.
_ TMZ.com reports that country trainwreck Mindy McCready is going back to rehab after a possible suicide attempt involving vodka and Ambien.
Seems like the poor woman recently got dumped.
This time, however, for better or worse, McCready will have Dr. Phil in her corner (she'd probably do better with Dr. Drew in her corner). Mindy's going to be Dr. Phil's "personal project," kind of like when Ty Pennington builds a master bedroom on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
_ Tattle's no economist, but here's the trouble with trickle-down economics: If 940 people each have $50,000, they buy groceries, appliances, clothes, etc., stimulating many facets of the economy.
If Candy Spelling has all that money by herself ($47 million), she buys a two-story condo in Century City, L.A., with a 4,000-sq.-ft. master bedroom bigger than most mansions.
To normal people, buying a $47 million apartment is insane, but to Candy it's just downsizing. Aaron Spelling's widow presently lives in a 123-room, 56,500-sq.-ft. hut that's the largest hut in L.A. County. That joint should soon be on the market, if you're looking, and with real-
estate prices depressed, now may be a good time to buy.
_ Life & Style reports that Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson are now wearing matching Jules Smith Infinity Lock bracelets.
"The bracelets represent their relationship. They have each other on lockdown, and there's no one else who can open up the key to their hearts," an anonymous insider told Life & Style. They also have matching anchor necklaces, which symbolize that they are each other's anchor.
Must be what all the girls who are "just friends" are wearing.
_ Madame Tussauds in London unveiled a waxwork of Amy Winehouse yesterday.
Sadly, it's even more lifelike than the real Winehouse. *
Daily News wire service contributed to this report.