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George Clooney Won't Be Steven Soderbergh's 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.'

by Kevin Jagernauth
August 29, 2011 8:52 AM
13 Comments
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As Steven Soderbergh gets ready to unveil "Contagion" in Venice, and shoot "Magic Mike" next month, his slate of projects before he retires is dwindling with only "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." and "Liberace" left. As we reported last fall, longtime Soderbergh pal and collaborator Clooney was lined up to lead 'U.N.C.L.E.' but it appears that is no longer in the cards.

Deadline reports that Clooney is exiting the picture, though reasons why aren't clear just yet. The project is gearing up to shoot in February 2012 when Clooney will likely be stumping hard for his awards season contender "Ides Of March" with the Oscars arriving right at the end of the month. You might recall, that Warner Bros. had to push Clint Eastwood's "A Star Is Born" from its planned start -- also in February -- due to Beyoncé's pregnancy and it's unlikely they wanted to mess up their calendar any more by moving 'U.N.C.L.E.'

Based on the 1960s television show, the franchise is one that WB has been trying to get off the ground for years. The approach for this version is to start from scratch, with writer Scott Z. Burns ("Contagion," "The Informant!") tossing the previous scripts (various iterations penned by Max Borenstein and David Campbell Wilson once for David Dobkin -- now a producer on the project -- and Doug Liman who eventually passed) and going for a fresh start. The project won't contemporize the setting, but instead, as Burns recently told CinemaBlend, it will use a real life event from the era as the focus. "I think if people know the show they’ll recognize tiny little things," Burns said. "All those shows are called, like, 'The Terbuf Affair' or whatever. Our affair comes from something that was actually going on in the world at the time."

With Clooney out, we'll have to see whether or not Soderbergh will stick around minus his pal or line up someone else. Undoubtedly, he has his pick of actors, but Clooney leaves some big shoes to fill and there aren't many actors of his age/calibre/stature who can get a period based franchise film greenlit. We'll be curious to see how this all plays out.

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13 Comments

  • Oliver Lyttelton | August 30, 2011 6:06 AMReply

    @JD, bingo

  • J.D. | August 30, 2011 3:15 AMReply

    Clooney's dropping out because of the back injuries he sustained while making SYRIANA. He doesn't want to risk it on what will be stunt-heavy film:

    http://www.eonline.com/news/the_awful_truth/source_george_clooneys_back_causes_him/260819?utm_source=eonline&utm_medium=rssfeeds&utm_campaign=imdb_tv-movies

  • RJ | August 29, 2011 11:33 AMReply

    I'm a smarmy cocksucker with an ax to grind. Please, just ignore my temper tantrums. I'm a waste of flesh who trolls the movie news forums to make myself feel like an insider when in all actuality i haven't been inside of anything but a KFC in ages. Especially pussy. Please, god - someone just give me a handjob or anything... i know Soderbergh's next move - i promise.

  • Paul | August 29, 2011 10:32 AMReply

    Michael Fassbender has a bit part in HAYWIRE. Why not give him the lead role Mr. Soderbergh? Please...

  • hank | August 29, 2011 10:28 AMReply

    well he's talked about painting. but people talk about a lot of things. that nytimes article was the first thing i've seen that confirmed he was actually serious about it.

  • RJ | August 29, 2011 10:04 AMReply

    You don't know more than I do, you just read the same post on deadline.

  • The Playlist | August 29, 2011 9:50 AMReply

    RJ. It's set up at Warner Bros. It's still happening and moving fwd, Clooney leaving isn't a surprise to SS or Burns. They've known this has been in the works for some time. Keep your pants on, you'll get some new information soon. Some of us know a lot more than you do.

  • RJ | August 29, 2011 9:47 AMReply

    Unless I'm missing something, Scott Burns wrote a script, and Soderbergh is interested in making it. Cool.

    Unless you can show me something about sets being built, locations scouted, crews being hired, casting, etc, I'm not sure anything was "in place" other than someone saying they wanted to make a movie and hoped to do it in 2012.

    The internet has been writing about this and "Liberace" for years....meanwhile, we hear about "Magic Mike" what, sixth months ago? and it's already cast and now about to go in front of cameras and will most likely be in theaters before anything moves with this or Liberace. Internet writers think they have an idea of what Soderbergh is doing but they never do.

  • rodie | August 29, 2011 9:36 AMReply

    I'm hoping Brad Pitt does it. Or maybe Soderbergh will snag Johnny Depp. I don't think they've ever worked together and it would be fun to see. I think they have similar senses of humor.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | August 29, 2011 9:30 AMReply

    Yes, Clooney was attached and yes, everything was in place. Shoot planned for Feb 2012. Trying reading before you have an aneurysm.

  • The Playlist | August 29, 2011 9:30 AMReply

    The painting career is old news. Or at least for anyone following him closely.

    @RJ. No, that's not right at All. There' s a script complete. It's much more than a vague idea.. Soderbergh and Burns took this on for WB. Clooney was someone they wanted and he was interested too and they had all discussed it, but he had to drop out for reasons you'll hear about soon enough is my guess.

  • RJ | August 29, 2011 9:27 AMReply

    so George Clooney is "dropping out" of a movie that was never really in ANY stage of production other than "Steven Soderbergh has an idea?"

    Was financing in place, script finalized/approved, budget in place, casting underway, scheduling .... anything? What's next a post about someone dropping out of Refn's non existent "Wonder Woman" movie?

  • hank | August 29, 2011 9:27 AMReply

    he's already painting.... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/artinfo/steven-soderbergh-confirm_b_940528.html

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