''Home Improvement,'' k.d. Lang, and Michael Richards made headlines this week

By EW Staff
Updated August 20, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

TROUBLE AT HOME: In TV land, little actors can make big demands. The Home Improvement boys (Zachery Ty Bryan, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, both 11, and Taran Noah Smith, 9) recently requested a raise from $8,000 to as much as $25,000 per episode, or about $625,000 a year. When the show’s producers — Wind Dancer and Touchstone Television — objected, the boys ”called in sick” for six days. ”Instead of being grateful for a successful show, they were asking ‘How much more can we get, ”’ says Rick Leed, president of Wind Dancer. Judy Savage, Smith’s agent, counters: ”We went to Disney in good faith, and they offered us a pittance.” The outcome? When Touchstone started recasting the roles, a quick settlement was reached — insiders say the kids will earn approximately $12,000 per episode. Star Tim Allen thinks the strike won’t affect the show. ”By the time anybody knew about it,” he says, ”it was over.”
Carolyn Ramsay

LEADER OF THE PACK: Denis Leary, who shot to fame with his angry, chain-smoking, motormouthed MTV and Nike spots, has been struggling to kick his three-pack-a-day habit. But if life imitates art, it must be tough going. For his first starring role — in The Ref, now shooting in Toronto — Leary is a nicotine-loving burglar trapped inside a suburban home with a dysfunctional married couple (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey). ”There’s a subplot about him sneaking off to smoke with Judy’s character,” says a production source. There’s also a scene in which a crazed Leary crams an entire carton into his mouth. Maybe he should start doing ads for Habitrol.
Pat H. Broeske

JUST DESSERTS: Appearing at Washington D.C.’s Afterwords Cafe didn’t satisfy k.d. Lang‘s constant craving. The singer stopped by the noted bistro and bookstore during a recent visit and ordered its most provocatively titled dessert, ”Sex by Chocolate.” After one bite of the chocolate mousse cake with strawberries, whipped cream, and hot fudge sauce, she told the waitress to take it away. ”She told me it was the most disgusting thing she’d ever eaten,” says the employee. A waiter then tried paying lang a compliment. ”I don’t bother famous people much,” he says, ”but I really wanted to tell her I’d seen her in concert and I thought she was incredible.” Lang’s response? A simple, ”Oh.” Worse still? ”She left a $1 tip on a $24 tab.” Lang’s manager had no comment.
Drusilla Saal

KRAMER VS. KRAMER: How much does Michael Richards (Seinfeld‘s Kramer) dislike his performance in Coneheads? When fans approach him on the street and say they saw the film, he’s giving them their money back. ”They can’t believe it!” says Richards, who has shelled out $184 so far. ”I feel personally responsible to my audience, and I feel very bad I wasn’t able to deliver in Coneheads.” Richards shouldn’t worry about having to lay out much more — the Saturday Night Live spin-off has failed to attract mass quantities of moviegoers, earning just $18.5 million at the box office to date.
Nancy Mills

FANCIEST DIVE: After Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood, are you ready for another entertainment-driven restaurant? Here comes the Dive, an 11,000-square-foot ”underwater” submarine-sandwich joint bearing the stamp of two Hollywood giants: Steven Spielberg and Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg. The duo are active investors in the marine-themed restaurant, scheduled to surface in L.A.’s Century City shopping mall by January 1994. It’s the brainchild of Chicago restaurateur Larry Levy, who persuaded the director and the chairman (no comment from either) to put up a portion of the start-up cost. ”This is not Planet Hollywood,” says Levy, insisting the Dive will be ”a serious restaurant. We’re talking gourmet sandwiches heated in wood-burning ovens.” What, no Raptor Fries or Mermaid Shakes?
Jeffrey Wells