On the surface it looked like your typical Hollywood lawsuit: Miffed star sues film company after being dropped from a project. But in this case, the star was Jodie Foster, and the company was PolyGram, which has a development deal with Egg Pictures, the production house that’s run by Foster. That the actress-director would resort to an acrimonious legal action against a business partner for losing a supporting part is, to say the least, eye-opening.
The details in brief: On June 6, Foster filed a $54.5 million suit against PolyGram, alleging that last November she and the company had orally agreed she would appear in the upcoming David Fincher-directed thriller The Game. Foster was to have worked for four weeks for $4.5 million and a percentage of the gross. With Foster on board, PolyGram signed Michael Douglas for the lead. Douglas, 51, would have played the 33-year-old Foster’s father. But, says one source close to the production, ”he wanted her to play his sister. She wanted to play the daughter.”
PolyGram, which according to the suit denied making any such deal with Foster, acceded to Douglas’ wishes. Now that Foster is no longer involved in the project, the role has been changed to Douglas’ brother (which, ironically, is how the script was first written) and Jeff Bridges has been offered the part.
Why Douglas was cast may be a matter of economics — he has a big international presence — but given PolyGram’s deal with Egg, Foster may have expected a little more consideration. ”It’s about honor,” says one source close to Foster. ”She wanted to do the movie. Believe me, it never would’ve happened if it were a man.”
A PolyGram spokeswoman says the company’s relationship with Egg remains ”positive and ongoing.” But will there be any fallout from the lawsuit? The jury is still out. In the meantime, the actress, who has been noticeably absent from the screen since her Oscar-nominated turn in 1994’s Nell, may very well make her next public performance in a courtroom: Her next movie, the sci-fi epic Contact with director Robert Zemeckis and costar Matthew McConaughey, isn’t slated to open until summer 1997.