By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood July 7, 2009 at 4:16AM
Buried in this Kim Masters story about Sony bringing over George Clooney's production deal is a juicy nugget: Clooney wants to take over playing Jack Ryan in the Tom Clancy franchise. That is, if Paramount ever gets its act together and puts the next movie back on the front burner. It's been years since Ben Affleck took over from Harrison Ford as a younger Ryan, and acquitted himself well in The Sum of All Fears, which grossed $193 million worldwide in 2002.
The studio didn't go ahead and make another one with Affleck because his prime supporter, studio chief Sherry Lansing, was on her way out the door, and the movie did not score in overseas markets. In the past seven years, Affleck has gained some gravitas as a writer-director (Gone Baby Gone), but his star is not on the rise as a leading man (see State of Play, He's Just Not that Into You). When constant management shifts brought the studio a series of production heads, nobody seemed to recognize that the dormant Clancy series could be a valuable tentpole. With Affleck out, Clooney is perfect casting for a more mature Ryan.