EXTRA: ‘Charlie’s Angels’ in Hell?

A “Charlie’s Angels” movie? Probably sounded like a pretty damn good idea. But as incessant set reports have made clear, the flick has been anything but a pretty good damn thing. (See below.)

The latest “Angels” foible comes in the form of the reputed resignation by Bill Murray, who, wags have it, stomped off the project April 17 after an argument between him and co-star Lucy Liu — an argument in which the feisty “Ally McBeal” chick supposedly threw air punches at the beloved comic.

While the folks at Sony Pictures, the studio behind the flick, remained mum when we called for comments, the fact is that the MurrayLiu feud is merely the most recent footnote to a project long plagued by mishaps, gossips, rumored implosions and bad publicity.

Here’s a recap of all nail-breaking, ego-clashing fun:


Though Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz confirmed their participation early, there was the unexpected obstacle of casting the third angel. “Ally McBeal’s” Liu eventually nabbed the role, but the process was so drawn out that the film’s shooting was postponed from November to December and then again to January. Bill Murray

The part of Bosley — the Angels‘ guy Friday — was left temporarily vacant by Murray over a salary dispute. The comic reportedly was asking $1 million more than producers (of whom Barrymore is one) were willing to pay. CATFIGHTS AND MELTDOWNS

So, what was the (reputed) deal between Murray and Liu? Several versions of the incident exist: One says that Liu was peeved by the amount of improvisation Murray was doing; another says that Murray slammed Liu for having no comic talent, whereupon, she shot back with some expletives. Yet another has it that it was Liu who had problems with the script and that it was Murray who came to its defense.

According to E! Online gossip columnist Ted Casablanca, fellow angels and friends Barrymore and Diaz have engaged in a little fisticuffs of their own over top billing for the film.

Reel.com columnist Jeffrey Wells recently reported that Barrymore has taken to binge eating to relieve the stress of the set. Other reports have Barrymore bawling for the same cause. CASH DRAIN

Casablanca also reported that Diaz allegedly decreed to have Julia Roberts‘ makeup crew fly out to Los Angeles to tend to her cosmetic needs. The studio allegedly said no, and Diaz, who banked a hefty $12 mil for her role, allegedly paid for part of the expense.

Again from Casablanca: The project has gone so overbudget that one of the flick’s producers allegedly paid for the cameos of original TV angels Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson out of her own deep pocket. (Of course, other sources — namely, Monday’s New York Daily News — will tell you the three won’t be in the movie due to “creative differences” over their collective cameo. SCRIPT, WHAT SCRIPT?

Merely one month before the film was to start rolling in November, someone close to the project was quoted in the Casablanca column as saying that “the biggest problem is there’s still no script.”

In November, “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner — who was offered (and rejected) the job to helm the “Angels” flick — explained to the Los Angeles Times the reason he passed was: “They threw a lot of money at me, but the script never worked.”

According to New York Post reporter Chris Wilson, who’s gotten ahold of the script, the much-doctored treatment had been revised 30 times by a total of 10 scribes by April.

And apparently one of these versions (drafted by “Go” writer John August) was so offensive that it drove both Barrymore and Diaz temporarily out of the picture, Casablanca said in his column back in December. DELAYS

Cinescape Online reported this week that due to various problems and production delays, the shoot might not end in early May as planned.

But what’s certain is that the flick’s released date has been moved back from Summer 2000 to Fall 2000. So, are all these negative behind-the-scenes reports going to tarnish the audience’s image of the film?

“Well, there used to the saying that ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity,'” says Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. “And it used to be that audiences don’t really know what’s going on with this kind of behind-the-scenes stuff. But now the Internet and other things have increased general interest for what goes on in front of and behind the cameras, and people are certainly taking notes of news like this out there.”

But despite our heightened sensitivity toward rumor and gossip, Dergarabedian insisted that “Charlie’s Angels” isn’t necessarily cooked.

“If people are interested in the subject, and if the film has a good marketing scheme, and if people like the trailer, they’re still going to go see it regardless of any reports of what went on behind. It’s not necessary a given that those types of thing translate into poor box office. Sure though, those types of publicity are not what you want to have out there, but if it’s a good movie, people are going to go see it regardless.”

Of course, given the kind of “Charlie’s Angels” hell reports that have been surfacing, it will certainly be a titan task to match on screen what went on behind the scenes.