When Brad Pitt ditched his starring role in State of Play last Wednesday, it seemed like for once a production was hitting snags that have nothing to do with the writer's strike. Not true; it turns out Pitt's departure was due to a script problem, specifically that Pitt thinks it needs some more work and Universal disagrees, and so State of Play has become yet another victim of the strike. But unlike other strike-affected movies, such as Pinkville and Shantaram, State of Play may not be going into a development hibernation. According to Variety, Universal is attempting to woo Russell Crowe to fill Pitt's shoes and keep the movie on track. Crowe would have to make sure he can squeeze this film in before his March start on Ridley Scott's Nottingham, while the studio would have to make sure that Crowe doesn't mind problem scripts. If the actor doesn't get cast, though, Variety points out that both Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp seem to be available thanks to the strike (same goes for Bruce Willis I think).

Obviously, Universal is hoping to get this movie made no matter what, because it needs to have something in the can once the strike has left us with a release void. Yet despite the strength of its cast, which includes Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn and Jason Bateman, the studio has to understand that if the script is problematic, the outcome may be a disappointment. It's worth pointing out that the plot of State of Play, which deals with politics and journalism, sounds superficially like the recent remake of All the King's Men, which had a stellar ensemble yet failed anyway. State and Play may be nothing like that film, but regardless it does remind me enough to foresee a failure. Anyway, we should hear definite word on whether or not Crowe takes the part early this week. We should also hear definite word, though probably not this week, on whether or not Universal plans to sue Pitt over his exit. The case will certainly be interesting to follow, because it could change the way in which Hollywood deals with A-list talent and pay-or-play contracts.
CATEGORIES Casting, Cinematical