According to Variety, Sony Pictures will pay Black Hawk Down screenwriter Ken Nolan $3 million for his 75-page "script-ment" (less than a script but more than a treatment) of Whitley Strieber's as-yet-unpublished alien sci-fi novel "The Grays," marking one of the studio's largest payments for a treatment.

The story concerns an alien race who essentially function as the "United States of the cosmos" -- running things on Earth as well as on other worlds. Operating in secrecy, the aliens are unwilling to reveal themselves for fear of altering mankind's development.

Producing the pic are Avenue Pictures' Cary Brokaw and former Sony Pictures chairman John Calley -- the duo behind Sony's recent adaptation of the Patrick Marber play Closer.

It's not clear who'll star in The Grays, but insiders say the lead role is intended for a female.