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Profiles of "American Idol," Michael Myers

Aired May 22, 2004 - 11:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, it's the smash show that's become a fixture in American culture...


CLIVE DAVIS, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, BMG NORTH AMERICA: As the television phenomenon, it's clearly captured the American public.


ANNOUNCER: ...making superstars out of the ordinary overnight.


RYAN SEACREST, HOST: It's a pretty quick way to stardom.


ANNOUNCER: It turned two unlikely guys into pop idols.


RUBEN STUDDARD, AMERICAN IDOL: I've always been a big guy and I've never let that slow me down.

CLAY AIKEN, AMERICAN IDOL RUNNER-UP: I didn't fit the pop star image and I'm, you know, kind of plain.


ANNOUNCER: From Simon's caustic comments...


SIMON COWAL, JUDGE: I have unpleasant thoughts, certainly.


ANNOUNCER: Hollywood renowned, the making of "American Idols," Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken.







ANNOUNCER: One of Hollywood's funniest leading men returns as everyone's favorite ogre, Shrek.

A standout from an early age, he grew up with the characters he brought to live.


MYERS: Yeah, baby! Yeah!


ANNOUNCER: He would become a shagadelic star spoofing the spy movies he watched with his dad.


MYERS: I think he would love it.


ANNOUNCER: But his father would never see his son's success.


MYERS: My career was doing very, very well and his health was deteriorating.


ANNOUNCER: The personal side of Mike Myers. Their stories now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi. Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn.

Take a stage full of young, star-struck performers, add three critical judges, and a nation of screaming fans, and what do you get? "American Idol," a television sensation and ratings bonanza. On Wednesday, the newest idol will be crowned and over night a wannabe will become the next big thing. Of course, you don't actually have to win to win big. Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, last year's champ and runner-up are now both mega-selling pop stars. So what does it take to make an idol? Here's Kyra Phillips.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm the next American idol!

SEACREST: It's a door. It's a way into music. Be ready to sing a verse and a chorus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to be a superstar!

SEACREST: It's a pretty quick way to stardom.


DAVIS: As a television phenomenon, it's clearly captured the American public.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the phenomenon that has made pop stars out of complete unknowns.

R. STUDDARD: This year has been a whirlwind for me. It's phenomenal, man.

This is Ruben Studdard, you all, on the set of my new video, Bizarre 2004.

AIKEN: It's a lot really fast. And I wonder -- I mean, it seems a little -- like a little too much to be true.


PHILLIPS: "American Idol" Ruben Studdard and runner-up, Clay Aiken, were both long shots for pop star fame. Their appearances anything but idol-like, the anti-Justin and Britney. So who could have predicted this from these unlikely idols? Magazine covers and between them, best selling singles and albums. Aiken's "Measure of A Man" with hits like "Invisible" soared to No. 1 and Studdard's "Soulful" including R&B singles; "Sorry 2004" became the third "American Idol" related album to open at No. 1.

What goes into the making of an "American Idol? How have these unknowns transformed into mega-selling pop stars?

DAVIS: Everything is custom crafted, which it has to be. So the approach for Clay must be different from Ruben.

R. STUDDARD: See, I got my alpha hat on.

DAVIS: It must be different from Kelly. And you've got to take each order because each of those orders have to compete.

PHILLIPS: There have been awards. Aiken took home a Billboard for his best-selling single "This is The Night." And recently, Studdard was Grammy nominated for his hit single, "Super Star." CNN was with the idol winner when he got the news of the nomination.

R. STUDDARD: Aah! Aah! OK. I've got to call my mama, so we got to hurry up.

PHILLIPS: A Grammy nod, a No. 1 one album. It's certainly a long way from home for the idol dubbed the Velvet Teddy Bear.

Twenty-five-year-old Ruben Chris Studdard grew up in the heart of the south, Birmingham, Alabama, a city that has seen many changes since the racial tension of the '60s.

R. STUDDARD: It was not as bad as it was when my mother and father were in school. I never had to encounter any real racism, you know, during the time I grew up in Birmingham and everything is really just totally changed and the city is a real big melting pot right now.

PHILLIPS: Ruben was the younger of two boys, to mom, Emily, a teacher, and dad, Kevin, an auto body shop owner. Reuben was the biggest kid on the block.

EMILY STUDDARD, MOTHER: He was a real toughie. I had to go to school to talk to the teachers sometimes for him for conduct and for a few fights but he was a typical little boy.

PHILLIPS: Ruben was a toddler when his family noticed he could sing.

E. STUDDARD: I mean I was in the choir at church and we all brought our children to choir rehearsal with us. And Ruben would sing along with the choir and he would sometimes hit the note that the adults couldn't hit.

KEVIN STUDDARD, BROTHER: He used to sing every song on the radio and it would drive me nuts. And, you know when we got home -- because I used to tell him to stop singing, please, you know, just stop singing. I'm tired of you singing. And then when we used to get home, I used to beat the crap out of him for singing all the way to the store.

PHILLIPS: It wasn't long before Ruben had the church choir solos. He sang in school and later formed his own gospel group. Ruben also showed talent on the football field. He played offensive lineman here at Huffman High.

CURTIS COLEMAN, STUDDARD'S FOOTBALL COACH: Well, he didn't really take football very serious. But, you know, we just told him, you know, he was going to have to play for us because he was too, you know, athletic, he was too big and he was too strong to sit on the bench.

PHILLIPS: Ruben went on to receive a full football scholarship at Alabama A&M University, but he had a rough time off the field when his parents divorced.

R. STUDDARD: Well, I was 18 years old and I was a freshman in college, so I thought I would be able to get over it pretty quickly but it really -- it affected me for a while.

K. STUDDARD: They're playing nice to us on the phone talking and I was talking to him about it, I mean, you know, just trying to tell him that everything was going to work itself out.

PHILLIPS: He was also having a hard time juggling football and his first love, music.

R. STUDDARD: When I first got to college, you know, football was really the main focus because that's how I was paying for my education, but I was a music education major. So the both of them were just so time consuming that they started to conflict.

PHILLIPS: Eventually, he chose music. He quit the football team his sophomore year. A year later, he dropped out of college to gamble on a music career. His family was crushed.

E. STUDDARD: My reaction was, you know, you go back to school. But at that time, he was 21 and there was nothing much that I could do.

PHILLIPS: Ruben continued singing gospel and led a jazz pop group.

R. STUDDARD: I was in a jazz and RB band called Just a Few Cats and we became the largest band in the city.

PHILLIPS: Three years later, an open call for a talent show called "American Idol" would change his life.

R. STUDARD: And I watched the first season and I thought it was kind of cheesy-like, you know, but I never thought I'd audition for it.

PHILLIPS: Coming up, Studdard eats his words. And later, could a dorky, goody-two-shoes steal Ruben's thunder?





AIKEN: I'm good with the looks today.

PHILLIPS: So who is this geeky, skinny guy stealing the spotlight from Idol winner, Reuben Studdard?

TOM ENNNIS, 19 ENTERTAINMENT: Nobody, I think, if they were being honest, would ever say, you know what, this kid is going to be a superstar.

AIKEN: He's a skinny, little, dorky kid from the south. He has a red neck accent, you know. What are we going to do with this guy?

PHILLIPS (voice-over): Here he is at an "American Idol" audition.

AIKEN: I'm the American Idol.

PHILLIPS: Since that time, 25-year-old Clay Aiken has transformed from Average Joe... AIKEN: I'm really nervous.

PHILLIPS: idolized double platinum pop star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I touched his hand.


PHILLIPS: A quantum leap from hick to hip.

Clay Aiken was born Clayton Grisome on November 30, 1978. He grew up here, in this wooded, middle class neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina.

AIKEN: As a child, you know, there was the putt-putt place and there was the Chuck E. Cheese and that was kind of a cool place to go to. I spent my childhood, you know, up to about 7, with just me and my mother. We had a pretty quiet deal going on, a pretty good routine.

PHILLIPS: Clay was raised mostly by his mom and grandmother. He spent little time with his real father.

FAYE PARKER, MOTHER: His father and I separated when he was a year old so he never got his father a lot, not by his choosing or my choosing. His dad just didn't come to see him.

PHILLIPS: His mom was an interior decorator for Sears. That's where Clay got his first taste in show biz.

PARKER: He was always talkative, always singing, very inquisitive. We used to take him to where I worked and the people there would put him on the counter and pay him to sing. So he'd stand on the counter. I guess I could say he got his start at Sears.

CATHERINE AIKEN, GRANDMOTHER: And he sang all the time. He'd sit in that little swing that he'd stop and he hooked a chain up. They said, "I can't swing" and Clayton would sing his little heart out.

PHILLIPS: He loved music and school but didn't take to sports.

AIKEN: My mom was always very supportive of what I did. And we tried the baseball thing for a while. My feet would go completely out of the side and I run like a weirdo. And so, you know, she didn't push me to do anything and she really never pushed me to do music.

PHILLIPS: Clay didn't have to be pushed. He joined the Raleigh Boys' Choir and won lead roles in high school musicals.

MARY PROPES, AIKEN'S FORMER TEACHER: Clay sang "This is The Moment" from "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," and it was just -- it was a showstopper. And the kids knew it. And the audience knew it.

PHILLIPS: But offstage, there were troubles at home. Clay's attempt to establish a relationship with his real father, Vernon Grisome, failed. AIKEN: There was a period where I saw him frequently and saw him regularly. But then when the relationship kind of soured some, I moved on, you know. I had what I needed at home.

PHILLIPS: In July's "Rolling Stone" magazine, Clay referred to his dad as his sperm donor and claimed that Grisome had been abusive towards his mother.

AIKEN: If anything, I think that I'm stronger for knowing him and knowing who he was and what I didn't want to be.

PHILLIPS: His dad passed away this year. Clay didn't attend the funeral. As a teenager, he had severed all ties with his father and changed his last name to Aiken. He also had a change of heart about music.

AIKEN: I think that my passion for teaching came out of one of those phases where I was tired of being known as the singer. So a friend of mine convinced me to come work with her at the Y just one evening a week. And I started working with her and loved it so much, I decided to do the summer camp program.

PHILLIPS: He went on to attend the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, with the goal of becoming a teacher. Clay became most interested in special education. He took a part-time job working with a 12-year-old autistic boy named Michael Bubel.

DIANE BUBEL, FRIEND: He knew about autism. He was very outgoing. One of the first things he said is, "I don't like to think of these children as being different. They're just kids and I'm excited to work with them."

AIKEN: Look at you! Look at you!

PHILLIPS: Meeting Michael's mom, Diane, changed the course of Clay's life. After hearing him sing, she convinced him to audition for "American Idol."

AIKEN: I was like, no. It's not in me to risk that and to take that type of -- to take that type of leap. I'm not that big of an entrepreneur. And she finally kept saying, "Listen, just go do it."

BUBEL: He's like, oh, they're not going to take me seriously, you know. I don't sing pop. You know I'm more of a crooner. And I don't have the image. I don't like anything like a Justin Timberlake, you know.

AIKEN: I'm signing my picture on "Rolling Stone." How crazy is that?

PHILLIPS: When we return, he's no Justin...

AIKEN: They're trying to make me look good. It's a hard job.

PHILLIPS: ...but he proves you don't need pop star looks to make it to the top... AIKEN: I'm slipping. Hold on. Don't use that one.

PHILLIPS: ...and the judge who wrecked havoc on the idol.

AIKEN: It can be a little embarrassing when he tells you that he prefers you with his eyes closed. Thanks. I think I prefer you with your mouth shut.





PHILLIPS (voice-over): They're two self-proclaimed mama's boys, unknowns who fast-forwarded into big-time celebrities. But for these unlikely superstars, the route to "American Idol" fame was anything but easy street.

R. STUDDARD: There was a lot of people crying and shaking.

K. STUDDARD: And I had a disturbing voice message from him and he was like, you're not answering your phone. And I'm cold. I'm hungry and it's wet out here.

AIKEN: I camped out for two days, so I was already stressed out enough.

PHILLIPS: Runner-up, Clay Aiken, was an "American Idol" reject in his own college town before landing on the show.

AIKEN: I didn't make it through Charlotte and I thought, OK, forget it. I'm not being turned down. I'm going anyway. So I went the next weekend to Atlanta.

PHILLIPS: Fellow southern, Ruben Studdard, never even planned to audition for "American Idol."

R. STUDDARD: I watched the first season and I thought it was kind of cheesy.

PHILLIPS: But when he tagged along to an audition with a friend, he couldn't resist a shot at fame.

R. STUDDARD: She asked if I would ride with her to Nashville to audition and I told her I would. And so, the next day we auditioned. I made it and I'm here.

PHILLIPS: After making it through the preliminary rounds, Clay and Ruben then faced the unnerving prospect of being scrutinized by Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and the infamous Simon Cowal. The judges didn't know what to make of the nerdy kid with the Coke bottle glasses. AIKEN: I just kind of went in and said, well, let's have fun with it. You know you're going to get cracked on. You know they put you through because you have to leave the glasses on and you look like a little dweeb.

PHILLIPS: The heavy-set guy from Alabama certainly didn't fit the pop star image either.

R. STUDDARD: I've always been a big guy and I've never let that slow me down.

COWAL: After about the third day, I turned around to Paula and Randy, and I said, "It's very interesting. We've got a different competition this year. We've got image over talent." And I had a feeling that talent was going to win this year.

PHILLIPS: Cowal still lived up to his reputation as America's most feared judge.

AIKEN: The only time on the show that I ever got nervous was right before he spoke because you never know what's coming out of his mouth. And you know you're on TV in front of 28 -- 40 million people every night. It can be a little embarrassing when he tells you that he prefers you with his eyes closed.

PHILLIPS: Both Ruben and Clay survived Cowal's criticism and made it through the show's final round. Clay's looks began to change over the weeks.

RANDY JACKSON, JUDGE: See, he's just got the Ryan Seacrest do. He's got sort of a Ryan type of shirts. Yes, he's got some of my kind of shoes and yes.

PARKER: There's been times when I would tell him that some of those hairdos that you're doing don't look too good to me. "Mom, let me just be me."

SEACREST: The winner of "American Idol" 2003 is Ruben Studdard.

PHILLIPS: After weeks of grueling competition, more than 25 million viewers watched as Ruben was crowned America's idol. He edged Clay out by less than one percent of the vote. Both idols were awarded recording contracts. Now came the bigger challenge of converting them from "American Idol's" into bonafide pop stars.

DAVIS: They have to veer separately so that for Clay to compete today in his own way, you know, whether taking the best of songs, coming out of the Barry Manilow tradition but showing that he can compete against a Justin Timberlake. For Ruben, we could rap. With him, we could do hip-hop. With him, we could do classic soul.

PHILLIPS: But both idols struggled with record execs about certain image tweaks. Ruben came close to quitting when managers tried to tailor his album to a pop audience. And Clay resisted when execs insisted he needed to change his clean-cut aim image to sell records. He hesitated to take on a bad boy persona during the making of his first video. And despite the record label's urging, Clay refused to incorporate racy material into his act.

AIKEN: I don't want to sing a song about sex and you know things that I don't see -- I'm not going to have dirty language on the album.

PHILLIPS: Image would come up again when Clay's sex life came into question. In "Rolling Stone," he hinted he's a virgin and he can't seem to get away from the question, is he straight or is he gay?

AIKEN: I just don't understand what motivates people to care. Because I'm a mama's boy and because I'm not exposing my private life to anybody and because I'm not sleeping with everybody, they make assumptions, which to me is, again, one of these things that's a pain in the rear end to get used to.

PHILLIPS: In the end, the record labels compromised, allowing the idols to keep their identities. Ruben as a smooth R&B singer...

R. STUDDARD: So, you all watch.

PHILLIPS: ... and Clay, the family-friendly pop star.

ENNIS: If I've learned anything from "American Idol" is that you can't shove down the America's publics' throat what your perception is of what someone should look like or what they should sound like or who they should be.

PHILLIPS: The marketing strategy paid off. Both idols have enjoyed No. 1 singles and albums. And Clay upstaged the idol winner when his debut hit became the best selling single of 2003.

R. STUDDARD: I mean being No. 2 is not that bad on the charts. You're selling 600,000 singles is a feat that nobody really accomplishes these days and, you know, Clay sold now 900,000, but that's OK.

PHILLIPS: But both idols have given a major boost to the recording industry, a business that has suffered big losses from online downloading.

ENNIS: People who have not been in the record stores for years because either they don't know where one is or they're just going online have now gone back into the record stores to buy Clay Aiken records, to buy Kelly Clarkson records, to buy "American Idol" records.

PHILLIPS: Hit records. Magazine covers. Photo shoots. Why do these unknowns resonate so loudly with the American public?

ENNIS: It proves that you can't fit people into a mold. They are not what you would think your average pop star would be. So, who is to say what is right and what isn't right and what is appealing and what isn't appealing?

R. STUDDARD: For you all, don't I look nice?

ENNIS: I maintained that the "American Idol" process just sort of throws all of that stuff out the window.

PHILLIPS: Regular guys transferred into America's idols, now superstars basking in the spotlight, taking nothing for granted.

R. STUDDARD: I never dreamed of doing anything else than what I'm doing and you know I'm just happy to be in the position that I'm in.

AIKEN: Every day I wake up, it's new and different. Who wouldn't like to have people cheering for you? I feel very lucky.


ZAHN: Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard are both currently on tour. As for "American Idol," the season finale airs on Wednesday.


MYERS: Oh, it's a cat, Donkey. Ow! Get it off!


ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, Mike Myers is back as Shrek...


MYERS: Still think this is a good idea?


ANNOUNCER: ...his most animated character ever.


MYERS: It's been such an honor and a privilege to be part of this.


ANNOUNCER: The story of the man behind the ugly, green giant. That's next.



ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. When it comes to crazy characters, none seem too far fetched for Mike Myers. From Linda Richmond to Austin Powers, Myers has proven himself to be a comic chameleon. And he's at it again. Back as the lovable green ogre, Shrek. The sequel to the 2001 mega-million dollar animated hit opened on Wednesday to rave review. But don't let Myer's onscreen antics fool you. He is serious about his silliness. Behind the laughter, there is a lot of determination, passion and pain. Here's Mike Mockler.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIKE MOCKLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mike Myers has made a career creating memorable characters: a shagadelic spy...

MYERS: Oh, behave.

MOCKLER: excellent cable access host, a German with a monkey fetish.

MYERS: Would you like to touch my monkey?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be honored.

MYERS: Touch it!

There are all a little bit like me, you know. DeClose (ph), I remember, of "Second City," we're all a cast of thousands.

His latest comic transformation? The return of that lovable ogre, Shrek.

MYERS: Now, where were we? Donkey!

MOCKLER: "Shrek 2" opened to big audiences and rave reviews this week. But successful sequels are nothing new to Myers.

MYERS: Successful sequel has an honest appreciation of that which worked and that which needed to be improved. And it has an honest evaluation of what it is you're saying and then you add one more sentence to it.

MOCKLER: After creating the Austin Powers box office empire, Myers was happy to take a back seat to the producers of "Shrek."

MYERS: And I can openly praise this because I didn't write it and I didn't produce it. I just get to play "Shrek," which is great.

MYERS: Are we there yet?

DIAZ: Yes!

MURPHY: Oh, finally!

MOCKLER: But before we get too far in Shrek's fairy tale, we start our story once upon a time north of the border. Mike Myers was born 1963 and grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, a land of donut shops and strip malls that provided the inspiration for "Wayne's World".

MYERS: And later on, monkeys might fly out of my butt.

MOCKLER: The youngest of three boys, Myers' father, Eric, was an encyclopedia salesman, his mother, Bunny, a former actress.

MYERS: Well, My parents were born in Liverpool, England, and I grew up thinking that I was related to the Beatles because all my aunts and uncles talked like, Hello. How are you? Great. So wonderful, love it. My parents were huge comedy fans, especially S&L and SCTV and Python.

PETER SELLERS, COMEDIAN: I'd like to have an argument, please.

MYERS: And Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers.

SELLERS: I am Inspector Clouseau.

MYERS: People who were funny were sort of like gods in my house.


MOCKLER: Myers was a child actor, appearing in commercials and on Canadian television, including "Range Rider & The Calgary Kid," a children's show that obviously had a limited budget.

MYERS: Reg, I know a way out, through the forbidden canon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, kid, lead the way.

MOCKLER: He attended several high schools eventually transferring to Stephen Leacock for its television production class. While there, Myers appeared in high school television productions. It was a high school experience Myers would later adapt for "Wayne's World".

MYERS: We're not worthy. We're not worthy.

It's something I've been doing since I was 12 years old. It was the suburban adolescent, North American, heavy metal experience as I knew it growing up in suburbs of Toronto in the mid-70s.

MOCKLER: On the day he graduated in 1982, 19-year-old Mike Myers auditioned with Toronto's Second City. The comic troupe has produced a virtual who's who of comedic actors from Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, and John Belushi, to John Candy, Martin Short, and Bill Murray.

MYERS: I was going to go to a university called York University. It has a great film program. But on my last day of high school, my last exam was at 9 o'clock. The audition for Second City was at 12:00 and I was hired at 3:00.

MOCKLER: Myers performed with Second City's Toronto touring company for a year and a half, moved to London for another year and half, where he teamed with comic Neal Malarkey, then joined Second City's Chicago comic company.

JOYCE SLOANE, SECOND CITY PRODUCER/EMERITUS: The audience took to him immediately. In other words, there were five other actors on stage with him. But Michael was the only one you noticed. He totally took focus, not wanting to steal focus, but you couldn't take your eyes off of him. He was that good.

MOCKLER: Chicago had another attraction, Myers future wife, Robin, whom he'd met following a hockey game. SLOANE: He wanted to work in Chicago. I said why do you want to work in Chicago? You're doing so well in Toronto? He said, because I'm desperately in love. And I would pass him by every now and then at the theater and say, are you still desperately in love? He would say yes, he was, and still is.

MOCKLER: Myers' work with Second City got him a role in a television pilot, 110 Lombard Street.

MYERS: Be careful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you want, Mike?

MYERS: Your car.


MYERS: Ah, come on.

MOCKLER: Though the show was not picked up, Myers would soon get a bigger break, the boy from the suburbs of Toronto got a job interview with "Saturday Night Live" producer, Lauren Michaels.

MYERS: I was terrified. And I really had only been in New York, like I drove through it once. And it was weird talking to Lauren Michaels and seeing the Empire State Building behind his head, because you only see it in movies and stuff. And I just -- I had to interrupt the interview at one point. I said, I'm sorry, is that the Empire State Building? And he was sort of like, well, yes, you know?

MOCKLER: Myers was hired. And in 1989, just seven years out of high school, he joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" as a featured performer.

MYERS: I had wanted to be on the show since I was 11. So, it's kind of a dream come true.

MOCKLER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Mike Myers becomes a movie star but loses the man who would have enjoyed it most of all.

He never saw "Saturday Night Live" or "Wayne's World" or my wife, or our two little dogs now, all the things that, you know, make you really happy.





MYERS: Working at "Saturday Night Live" is, you know -- it's like a combination of fast food and fantastic voyage. You work all the time. There's no windows in that studio.

MOCKLER (voice-over): Mike Myers' work on "Saturday Night Live" made him a star.

LEHA ROZEN, FILM CRITIC, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: He stood out from the pack on "Saturday Night Live" and part of it was he created these very identifiable, sympathetic characters you looked forward to seeing week after week.

MOCKLER: Many of those characters found their inspiration in Myers' real a life. There was Sprokets Host Dieter, whom Myers says he based on a waiter in Toronto.

MYERS: Before I begin, would you like to touch my monkey?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be honored.

MYERS: Touch it! Love him!

He would be taking your order and then it would be like, "Your order has become tiresome." And he would bolt and leave and never come back. And he would like -- you know, I'd say, "Yes, I'd like the BLT." "No." Well, what do you mean no? "You don't want it." I would have to have like feta and oregano or something.

MOCKLER: There was Linda Richmond, the hostess of "Coffee Talk", a character modeled after his own mother-in-law.

MYERS: Welcome to "Coffee Talk". I'm your host, Linda Richmond.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Linda Richmond and I am Mike's mother-in- law.

LARRY KING, "LARRY KING SHOW": Wait a minute. You are the mother- in-law of Mike?


MYERS: Linda Richmond, it is. My actual mother-in-law.


KING: You married a Jewish girl?

MYERS: I did, yes.

KING: How do you like having a character based on you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I absolutely love it. It's just like butter.

ROZEN: How many other people could have taken Yiddish phrases and made them standard American vocabulary?

MYERS: I'm a little verklempt (ph).

ROZEN: Who hasn't described themselves as feeling a little verklempt (ph)? MOCKLER: Myers biggest breakout character however, was Wayne Campbell, the party loving host of a cable access television show, "Wayne's World".

MYERS: This is Stan Makita's Donuts. Excellent munchables.

LUKE AVISON, FORMER STUDENT, STEPHEN LEACOCK COLLEGIATE INST.: One of their major hangouts this Stan Makita donut shop, right around the corner from where Mike grew up, from were we all grew up, was Tim Horton's, who is a Canadian hockey legend. But we're just at home going, oh, yeah, that's our neighborhood.

MOCKLER: Myers quickly found himself in Hollywood, turning the sketch into a full-length movie.

MYERS: Wayne's World. Wayne's World. Party Time. Excellent.

MOCKLER: The "Wayne's World" film became an enormous hit, grossing over $200 million.

ROZEN: In most of the "Saturday Night Live" films -- and I have seen just about all of them, you really after about 20 minutes go, OK, there's no more to this. And with "Wayne's World", you were happy to see what their next adventure was.

MOCKLER: It's catch phrases...

MYERS: Schwing!



MOCKLER: ...caught on nationwide.

Myers was a full-fledged celebrity, if a quiet one.

LARRY SUTTON, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Unlike the other characters on "Saturday Night Live", he's maintained a nice quiet personality. During the years when he was filming in New York, you never read about him being out at a club at four or five in the morning. Almost every other cast member on the show, you'd read about that.

MOCKLER: But while Myers' professional life was thriving, personally he was hurting. His father, Eric had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1987.

MYERS: He came and saw me at Second City and would heckle the people on stage. Like if I wasn't on the scene, he's say, Oh, get off the stage, you're rubbish, bring Michael on, he's the only funny one.

And I had to like explain to the whole cast that, you know, my dad has Alzheimer's, and he's going to shout stuff out. They were very, very cool about it. My career was doing very well and his health was deteriorating. There was a time when he just didn't recognize us and then there was a time he was just mute, staring out into space. And I took comfort in that, because I thought in a weird way, that his soul had left his body.

MOCKLER: Eric Myers died in November, 1991.

MYERS: I think I do miss being able to report, check in, make real, you know? He never saw "Saturday Night Live", or "Wayne's World" or my wife, or our two little dogs now, all the things that, you know, make you really happy.

MOCKLER: Myers wears a reminder of his father everyday.

MYERS: This is my dad's Encyclopedia Britannica Salesman of the Year ring, from 19 -- I think it's '57 -- when he came to Canada from Liverpool and he got this ring. This is my wedding ring now, because he couldn't be at my wedding, so...

MOCKLER: Myers worked through his pain, continuing on both "Saturday Night Live" and in Hollywood. But his movie career would stall. 1993's "Wayne's World 2" began with script problems and ended a disappointment at the box office. And another film Myers starred in that year, "So I Married An Axe Murderer" also did poorly.

ROZEN: The perception of Mike Myers after "I Married an Axe Murderer" flop was he could only do "Saturday Night Live" characters and that the audience wanted him in a presold character.

MOCKLER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Mike Myers walks away from Hollywood.




MOCKLER (voice-over): By 1994, Mike Myers had lost his father, made several movies in rapid succession and needed a break. He quit "Saturday Night Live" after six years on the show and for a year and half dropped out of the public eye. Instead of making movies, he visited family and spent time with his wife, Robin, whom he married in 1993. Instead of power lunches, he took power skating lessons to improve his hockey game. And along the way, came an idea for a new character.

I wrote "Austin Powers" because I was driving home from hockey practice and I heard "The Look of Love" on the radio and just all that sort of great sort of spy stuff, you know, Ursula Andres and all the sexy stuff. And I wrote a song for it and I'm going to sing it for you right now.

MOCKLER: Meyers wrote the script for Austin Powers in just three weeks. And in 1997, his lost in time secret agent shot his way into theaters. MYERS: That's not your mother, it's a man, baby.

MOCKLER: The movie was just a moderate hit at the box office but would develop a cult-like following.

ROZEN: What happened is the first Austin Powers film comes out on video. People start seeing it, they start telling all their friends, you got to rent this. You got to rent this. The movie turned into a huge video hit.

MOCKLER: Meyers followed up the spy spoof with a dramatic turn he played Steve Rubell, owner of the famed New York disco, Studio 54. Though the movie flopped, Myers got good reviews.

ROZEN: Myers turned Rubell into really this almost sympathetic, in some ways tragic over-cocained figure. He was able to create a compelling character in a film that mostly seemed peopled with stereotypes.

MOCKLER: In 1999, Myers slipped back into his false teeth and shaggadelic suits for "Austin Powers 2".


MYERS: Are you kidding, baby? I put the go in swinging baby.

MOCKLER: The sequel was a box office blockbuster making more money in its first weekend than the original did in its entire theatrical run.

MYERS: Yeah, baby, yeah.

MOCKLER: For Myers, the experience of making the Austin Powers films was ...

MYERS: Groovy, baby.

It's a like a two-month party. I had the most fun I have ever had on my life. I was very sad on the last day. It's kind of like the last day of camp or something.

MOCKLER: Myers' next role wasn't even on camera, but provided him with yet another run away hit, the animated fairytale, "Shrek".

MYERS: That will do, Donkey. That'll do.

MOCKLER: Meyers originally voiced the character with a Canadian accent then switched to Scottish when he felt it wasn't working.

MYERS: Like you watch it and then you'd redo it. They redo it to what you just did. It's an amazing back and forth, very inspiring. I ended up really loving how long it took and how much time you get, the luxury of being able to sculpt it and shade it and do all that stuff.

MOCKLER: But Myers' reputation is not flawless. He's known as a perfectionist. And "Wayne's World" director Penelope Spheeris has publicly acknowledged tension on that set.

MYERS: And this lumpiest couch I ever sat on.

MOCKLER: He's also had his share of flops, most recently, "The Cat In The Hat," which was torched by critics and fell far short of box office expectation.

As much as critics disliked "The Cat In The Hat," their universally praising "Shrek 2." "USA Today" gives the movie four out of four stars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The beautiful Princess Fiona and her new husband.

MOCKLER: It picks up right where the last one left off, the ogre still on his quest for acceptance.

MYERS: It's about tough love and how important that is. This one in particular has when you've learned to love yourself among others; you're responsible for your own happily ever after.

MOCKLER: Looking back on his career, Myers says he's created his own happy ending.

MYERS: I realized that I've done everything that I wanted to do since I was a little kid. And I thought that might be sad but in fact it's awesome. It's a great feeling.


ZAHN: "Shrek 2" just hit theaters and there are already plans for another sequel. DreamWorks has penciled in "Shrek 3" for 2006.

That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week, murder in Modesto, a look at the Laci Peterson case as Scott Peterson heads to trial. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us. Be sure to stay with CNN for the very latest on what's happening in your world.

ANNOUNCER: Want more PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, sign up for our newsletter at And for more celebrity news, be sure to pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.


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