"Lizzie" Star Splits from Disney
Breaking up is, like, so hard to do.~

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May 27, 2003 by Lia Haberman

Hilary Duff, tween star of the Disney Channel's Lizzie McGuire and the recent feature release of the same name, has ditched her first TV steady, the Walt Disney Co., officially nixing the successful franchise.

As junior high student Lizzie McGuire, the 15-year-old actress was a character cash cow for Disney who spun the hit TV series into books, games, clothing and music targeted at the piggy banks of preteens. Last year, Duff released a pop single "I Canít Wait" on the Walt Disney Records label that played on heavy rotation on Radio Disney.

How did something so right go so wrong?

Amid the finger pointing, this much is clear: Disney and Duff couldn't agree on how much it would cost to keep the actress playing her kooky alter ego, and after talks went sour this month the two sides decided to call it quits over the weekend.

"We very much wanted to continue the Lizzie franchise," Disney Studio production chief Nina Jacobson told the Los Angeles Times. "But every deal has its tipping point, the point at which it no longer makes sense. Unfortunately, that's the point we reached in the Lizzie negotiations, and we ultimately had to say goodbye."

In April, her attorney reportedly demanded at least $100,000 per episode for a proposed ABC series (the network is part of the Disney family) that would have featured Lizzie graduating to high school--the original Disney Channel show wrapped in December after 65 episodes, a standard for kids TV series.

While Texas-born Duff had earned $15,000 per episode from the cable net, she rejected an offer of $35,000 from the broadcast network as insultingly low.

Also at stake, the actress' salary demands for a sequel to the successful The Lizzie McGuire Movie, which has grossed $32.3 million since its May 2 launch, close to double the movie's $17 million budget. Sources say Disney balked at paying Duff the $5 million she requested--an amount her reps say is in line with what fellow teen dream Frankie Muniz is earning for his sequel to Agent Cody Banks (incidentally starring Duff as his gal-pal).

On May 9, the Mouse made its final offer. While she received $1 million for the first movie, Disney was willing to pony up $4 million for the sequel against 4 percent of the studio's gross. Duff also stood to earn a $500,000 bonus if the movie passed the $50 million mark at the box office. Lizzy McGuire

Instead, Duff's reps insisted she get the $500,000 bonus regardless of the movie's performance. Disney declined and the negotiations were officially terminated.

For now, Disney plans to keep broadcasting reruns of the series on its cable network, including five unaired episodes that will be shown this summer. It may even produce an animated Lizzie series, which frees the studio from the demands of its flesh-and-blood talent.

Meanwhile, Duff's been busy establishing herself as a pint-sized titan sans Lizzie's help. The actress is currently shooting a remake of the 1950s comedy Cheaper by the Dozen with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt which is slated for a holiday 2003 release and is about to start production on A Cinderella Story, due in theaters next summer. The teen, who's trying to make the transition from child star to more mature performer, also has an album scheduled for September appropriately titled Metamorphosis.