— An attorney for comedian Mike Myers said the actor plans to countersue Universal Studios and Imagine Entertainment in an increasingly bitter legal battle over failed plans to make a film based on a popular Myers’ character.
The countersuit, which attorney Martin Singer is expected to file in Los Angeles on Monday, alleges an assault in the way a process server chased Myers into his own home, violations to Myers’ right of privacy, abuse of process, and fraud on the part of Universal.
Myers’ suit follows a $30 million action filed by Imagine, headed by actor/director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer.
Failed Negotiations “Ironically, we would have filed our cross complaint within two days of the filing of [Imagine’s] suit, but for the fact we’ve had discussions with Universal that were getting very close to possibly resolving the matter,” Singer said.
“Now that this lawsuit has been filed, it’s not going to be resolved as far as we are concerned,” he added. “Our position is we are just going to proceed with litigation.”
Universal had also sued Myers for $5 million back in June with much the same claims against the comedian, who scored a huge blockbuster movie with his 1999 spy spoof, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
The two filmmakers allege Myers pulled out of an agreement to make a film based on his popular character “Dieter,” a German talk show host Myers made famous on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Imagine was making the film for Universal, which shut down the film’s preproduction in June.
A Universal spokesman declined to comment on its lawsuit.
Script Rejected The battle dates back to May when Myers, Imagine and Universal were hashing out details of a script for the Dieter film, which was to have gone into production this year with a release date set for the summer of 2001.
At the time, Myers told Universal he would not make the movie because he did not believe the script was ready. Myers had the right to approve the script before filming. In a statement issued after Universal filed its suit, Myers said making the film would “cheat moviegoers.”
But Imagine’s suit claims Myers had written the screenplay himself, and alleges the comedian has shown “a pattern and practice of breaking his promises” in his past movie deals.
“I can’t wait to get this guy on the stand and let the world see what he is like,” said Imagine attorney Bert Fields, whose clients have included Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
Box Office Bust Singer said, however, that the script was written with two co-writers, and Myers had been trying to work on revisions — possibly bringing in a new writer — with Imagine and Universal only days before Universal’s suit was filed.
Singer called Imagine’s claims that Myers had shown a pattern of broken promises, “pure nonsense,” and said Myers “honored his contractual commitments.”
Imagine is asking for the $30 million it believes would have roughly equaled its share of the gross ticket sales of a Myers’ movie. The Spy Who Shagged Me raked in around $310 million in global ticket sales last year. The Dieter movie was to have been Myers’ next film after the Spy Who Shagged Me.
Universal is a unit of the Canadian firm, Seagram Co. Ltd. Seagram is currently in the process of merging with the French utility concern Vivendi and its pay TV subsidiary, Canal Plus.