EXTRA: The Quitting Kind

HOLLYWOOD, June 8, 2000 – What causes a big star to walk away from a movie, even after the contracts have been signed, and the checks have been written? Why on Earth would Mike Myers quit “Dieter,” a pet project based on his “Sprockets” skit from Saturday Night Live, which was gonna bring him his first $20 million booty?

Myers is hardly the first star of his magnitude to walk away from a high-profile film. That said, it’s not surprising he’s not the first star to get sued for desert a movie, either. See, it’s become something of a sport among some Hollywood types to exit a movie set, leaving the production in a lurch, scrambling to find casting replacements.

So, while Myers is busy preparing his legal defense, we thought it’d be fun and informative to look back some notable star walk-offs, and their ramifications:

When Kim Basinger backed out of her role in the low-budget film “Boxing Helena,” she opened up a legal can of worms that ensnared her in a long court battle, eventually costing her a $3.8 million settlement and a bankruptcy filing. Not long thereafter, Whoopi Goldberg tried to get out of her commitment to star in “T. Rex,” a comedy about a cop with a dinosaur for a partner, but the producers pointed to Basinger and threatened Goldberg with a similar fate. She did the movie, natch.

John Travolta likewise was sued, for $50 million, after he walked off the set of Roman Polanski’s “The Double” in 1996, citing major-league conflicts with the director. Steve Martin was cast to replace Travolta, but the film became bogged down in pre-production troubles and the movie was eventually scrapped.

Frank Sinatra’s bailout from the movie version of “Carousel” (1956) is legendary, as is the late crooner’s reason for doing so. Frank was strictly a one-take actor, so when he heard the movie was going to be filmed twice, in regular Cinema-Scope and the then-new CinemaScope 55 format, he balked.

It may not be legendary, but when Keanu Reeves opted not to reprise his role in “Speed 2,” it made headlines. You remember – the perennial dude wanted to record and tour with his alternative rock band, Dogstar, and to make little movies like “Feeling Minnesota.” Notice that Sandra Bullock wasn’t above re-hashing the runaway vehicle premise, and Jason Patric dutifully accepted the call to replace Reeves.

Everybody loves Meg Ryan, except perhaps a few directors and producers out there. Ryan has backed out of at least three films: “Steel Magnolias,” “Housesitter,” and “Maverick,” and was replaced respectively by Julia Roberts, Goldie Hawn and Jodie Foster.