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Moneyball Update

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 22, 2009 at 6:40AM

It was a bad week for Steven Soderbergh and his $57-million screen version of Michael Lewis's baseball book Moneyball, which Sony shut down as of Friday--with a Monday start-of-production date. (How odd that "producer" Michael DeLuca was on his honeymoon last week and still has not returned. Soderbergh's producer Greg Jacobs was in charge, clearly.) The problem with the Sony spin over the weekend is that it doesn't make sense for Sony chief Amy Pascal to be suddenly discovering that she didn't like a script that had been in circulation--and active pre-production for weeks. Soderbergh was open about his documentary-like approach, and had obtained Major League Baseball cooperation.
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Soderbergh-pitt-moneyball

It was a bad week for Steven Soderbergh and his $57-million screen version of Michael Lewis's baseball book Moneyball, which Sony shut down as of Friday--with a Monday start-of-production date. (How odd that "producer" Michael DeLuca was on his honeymoon last week and still has not returned. Soderbergh's producer Greg Jacobs was in charge, clearly.) The problem with the Sony spin over the weekend is that it doesn't make sense for Sony chief Amy Pascal to be suddenly discovering that she didn't like a script that had been in circulation--and active pre-production for weeks. Soderbergh was open about his documentary-like approach, and had obtained Major League Baseball cooperation.

So the Brad Pitt theory-- that he got cold feet (not for the first time) and used Pascal as his beard-- makes more sense. But that is not what I'm hearing from Pitt's camp. They say he was ready to make Soderbergh's movie. It's hard to imagine Pitt agreeing to make the movie with another director at this point. It would have to be Soderbergh or no one. Pascal was demanding certain changes that Pitt and Soderbergh refused to make and threw her foot down, perfectly willing to walk away. Point is, she would have made the movie a year ago. She can't afford for this movie to lose money right now, bottom line.

Soderbergh had the weekend to line up another studio, but his bad luck was that Paramount was in disarray. And Warners passed. Either he makes some kind of rapprochement with Sony or the project's dead. Here's Michael Fleming. UPDATE: And the LAT.

[Graphic courtesy The Playlist]

This article is related to: In Production, Headliners, Directors, Steven Soderbergh, Brad Pitt


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.