Nikke Finke, the reclusive and possibly fictional scoopmeister behind Deadline Hollywood, is reporting that Megan Fox will not be in Transformers 3. (CNN confirms it.) Paramount has passed on its option to hire her for the sequel, and Finke's sources say the decision ultimately came from director Michael Bay, who has demonstrated in his body of work that he is very good at making poor choices.

The speculation, of course, is that this is Bay's revenge for all the mean things Fox said about him in public -- like, oh, for example, when she compared him to Hitler. (Hey, at least Hitler's projects came in under budget.) Bay and Fox, both accustomed to being the center of attention wherever they go, clashed on the set of the Transformers movies and frequently sparred in the press. Bay talked about maybe killing off Fox's character in the third movie. Now it would seem he's opted to save himself the trouble by just not including her to begin with. Naturally, this will require a massive overhaul of the script, and screenwriter Ehren Kruger is now busily at work pressing Ctrl-F and replacing all the instances of "MIKAELA" with "NEW GIRL."

Kidding aside, though, it's risky for Bay to make such a huge decision this late in the game. (The film is supposed to start shooting right away, with a July 1, 2011, release date.) Shia LaBeouf's character, Sam Witwicky, needs to have a more culturally acceptable love interest than Bumblebee, so someone will have to take Mikaela's place.

But how is Michael Bay going to find another attractive young woman to objectify?

Bay plucked Fox out of obscurity and made her into a star. That sort of thing doesn't happen all the time. It was magic, fate, luck, destiny, all of those things. Highly attractive 20-year-old girls who want to get into show business but aren't very talented are hard to find. Especially in Los Angeles. What, does Michael Bay think there's a line of would-be starlets whose breasts jiggle when they run just waiting outside his office? Does he think there's an endless supply of pretty, starry-eyed girls in Hollywood who are willing to be lovingly photographed for a billion-dollar franchise? What, is he crazy??

Megan Fox wasn't just a lovely face and smokin' hot body. She was a lovely face and smokin' hot body who could also deliver lines of dialogue, in English, while movie cameras were pointed at her. That combination of beauty and basic competence is rare. A filmmaker is lucky to find it once in a lifetime. And now Bay is tossing it aside, on the arrogant assumption that he'll find someone ELSE capable of wearing revealing outfits while washing a motorcycle.

Oh, sure, Mike. I suppose you think you can find a girl like that by just opening any random issue of Playboy!

Then there's the matter of the character herself, Mikaela. Sure, some people watched the films mainly for the giant alien robots and the comical 20-minute sequences of garden destruction. But I think most of us were there because we felt involved in the characters' lives. Mikaela and Sam established a strong, mature, highly nuanced relationship over the course of Transformers and Transformers: Whatever the Second One Was Called. What explanation will we be given for her sudden absence? She and Sam broke up between the last movie and this one? OK, but we'll need to know why. We need to see it happen. We need to accept that, as painful as it may be for us, it's the only natural progression for these characters. We need closure.

One thing Bay absolutely CANNOT do is simply replace Mikaela with another gorgeous unknown semi-actress. It would be unfair to Mikaela's legacy, and a betrayal of Sam's feelings for her. Moreover, it would deny the underlying humanity of the whole franchise. If Bay thinks Transformers fans are going to tolerate any kind of illogical changes or lapses in continuity, he'd better think again.

In firing Megan Fox, he has made an irreparable error, one from which I fear he cannot recover. May 19, 2010: The day the Transformers series died.

Never forget.