Universal Pictures has pulled the plug on “Dieter,” closing down pre-production and pink-slipping 25 employees two weeks after Mike Myers ditched the comedy.
The studio conceded that its June 5 filing of a breach-of-contract suit against Myers had not convinced the star to return to the project. It had continued to keep the 25 employees on staff after filing the suit, but told them Friday to stop work.
Studio chairman Stacey Snider blamed Myers for the layoffs. “While we are extremely disappointed that we are not able to make this film, we are particularly anguished when considering all the talented individuals who came on board based on Mike Myers’ commitment to this project and as a result, gave up other opportunities to do this film,” she said in a statement.
The studio and producer Imagine Entertainment had planned to begin shooting in August with the goal of a summer 2001 release. In the suit, Universal seeks to recover the $5 million it claimed it has spent so far on the project plus lost profits.
Myers, who developed the title character on “Saturday Night Live” and received his first $20 million payday for the “Dieter” deal, has said he backed out of the project because the script he had written was not acceptable. “I cannot in good conscience accept $20 million and cheat moviegoers,” he explained.
Rumors emerged recently that high-profile players have attempted to broker a settlement in the dispute (Daily Variety, June 15).