With all the interesting projects Steven Spielberg had lined up to choose from after completing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the news that he'd direct a movie about the Chicago 7 has come out of left field -- though we did hear a bit about it back in July. But as of yet, the guy hasn't denied the news that Sacha Baron Cohen will be playing Abbie Hoffman in a film titled The Trial of the Chicago Seven scripted by Aaron Sorkin (Charlie Wilson's War). Nor has Spielberg publicly commented on some other casting possibilities leaked in the new Vanity Fair article about Indiana Jones -- possibilities I apparently missed the first time around, because those photos were so eye-grabbing. One definite casting decision, according to that article, is Philip Seymour Hoffman as William Kunstler, the famous attorney who defended the 7 as they were tried on charges of conspiring to incite riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

The Vanity Fair writer, Jim Windolf, wrote about learning of this news while visiting Spielberg at his Amblin Entertainment office on the Universal lot. The writer claims to have glanced at a table on which headshots of Will Smith, Taye Diggs, Adam Arkin and Kevin Spacey were visibly linked to the Chicago Seven project. None of the actors' proposed roles were determined, however. Now, I don't want to assume that Spielberg planted those headshots for Windolf to see, but it does seem strange that such a sometime-secretive filmmaker would let something like this be leaked in such a way. It also seems strange to think that anybody, even Spielberg, would need a headshot of Smith in order to decide to cast him as Black Panther (and 8th of the originally Chicago 8) Bobby Seale, who I will assume Smith's being considered to play. Windolf also claims that Sorkin's script is somehow based on the documentary Chicago 10, which premiered at Sundance last year and is being given a limited release next month. As Jessica noted the other day, you could probably make that a must-see primer while you await Spielberg's film (and more news about it). Another idea is to check out Steal this Movie (often available for free online), which is also good to watch for the appearance of a very young Michael Cera as Abbie Hoffman's son, America.