THE SCRIPT DEBACLE
''Myers arbitrarily announced that he would not perform after all [in Dieter]. He claimed he had not approved the screenplay. Who wrote the screenplay? Myers.''
He ''was willing to continue working on the script and asked that the motion picture simply be placed on hold,'' but that he ''could not in good conscience accept his $20 million acting fee or approve the script in its present form.''
BEHIND THE CHARGES
By most accounts, Myers felt his Dieter character was underwritten. After laboring over the script for nearly two years with cowriters Jack (''Deep Thoughts'') Handey and Spy Who Shagged Me collaborator Michael McCullers, Myers realized the script had, as one source puts it, ''never become more than a sketch.'' Worse still, at a live read-through in late May, which took place at Myers' L.A. production offices, with Myers, SNL's Will Ferrell, and members of the Groundlings comedy team, ''the comedic flow wasn't working,'' says Emma Chasin, Dieter's coproducer. ''Dieter was too passive. He didn't make choices. He resided only in the intellect, not in the heart. It would have been like Austin Powers just saying, 'Smashing, baby, smashing.' Funny lines alone don't make a movie work.'' Adds Austin Powers costar Seth Green: ''Mike doesn't take shortcuts just for the sake of putting money in his pocket. He's fiercely protective of content.''
A Universal exec sees it differently, saying, ''Myers didn't postpone Dieter. He backed out. He wanted bigger things after Austin Powers.'' Adds another exec close to the negotiations, ''Mike Myers has been bullying people for a long time and this was his latest attempt to do that. Now there are 200 people out of work because of it and that's just not fair. The bullying has to stop.'' Counters Myers' lawyer Marty Singer: ''This is a case of a studio bullying an actor not the other way around.''
THE WAR OVER WAGES
Myers ''insisted on increasing the [$10 million] fee he had previously agreed to accept because he felt he had become a much bigger star'' after Austin Powers 2.
Based on the success of the Austin Powers movies, ''Universal approached Myers' agent and proposed to increase Myers' compensation...ultimately offering to pay Myers $20 million plus 12.5 percent of the gross receipts to star in [Dieter].''
BEHIND THE CHARGES
It's still not clear who first approached whom, but certainly the success of Spy increased Myers' earning clout. Several negotiations took place, says David O'Connor, Myers' agent, resulting in the doubling of Myers' Dieter salary. Says O'Connor, ''After Austin 2, Universal called and said, 'We recognize we'll have to renegotiate.'''
At one point late in the negotiations, Grazer volunteered to give up $500,000 of Imagine's production fees and offered it to Myers. Says Imagine's lawyer Bert Fields: ''Grazer asked Myers if that would close the deal. Mike Myers said 'Yes.'''
But at a May 30 meeting, Myers informed everyone he was putting the brakes on Dieter. ''We left the meeting feeling confident, like we could move forward and make another Universal/Imagine movie while Mike put this one aside for a while,'' says Chasin, who nevertheless must have sensed something was up. ''[Grazer] was shaking, he was so upset.'' That frustration eventually led to Imagine's separate suit against Myers. Says a source close to Grazer, ''After Brian put up his own money, and Mike decided to walk, Imagine went insane. They felt so abused by the process.''