Dr. Seuss has never been described as shagadelic, but that may be about to change. ''Austin Powers'' star Mike Myers is now expected to headline the big-screen live-action version of ''Cat in the Hat.'' Producer Brian Grazer, who got into a rather public catfight with Myers after the actor abandoned the Grazer project ''Dieter,'' denies that Myers' participation is a make-good. Instead, he's focusing on what makes Myers the perfect cat's meow. ''The blend of his irreverence works very well with the Seussian child sensibilities,'' says Grazer, adding that Seuss' widow, Audrey Geisel, approves of Myers' casting. ''Having Mike puts the story on steroids.''
Bo Welch (production designer for ''MIB'' and ''MIB2'') will direct the film, which Grazer hopes to begin shooting this fall for release in summer 2003. (Myer's rep could not be reached for comment.) Replacing Tim Allen -- who exited to work on ''Santa Clause 2'' -- Myers will undergo prosthetic transformations from makeup guru Rick Baker. But unlike Jim Carrey's ''The Grinch,'' the ''Cat'' isn''t kids' stuff. ''I think of him like Bluto, the character [John] Belushi played in 'Animal House,''' Grazer says. ''He took the characters on a ride more intense than anyone expected, and that's what the Cat does.''