Sony, producer Scott Rudin, director David Fincher and star Brad Pitt are making interlocking moves. First, writer Steve Zaillian has handed in the script for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was due on June 1. That means that Pitt is reading the script to decide if he wants to play muckraking womanizer Mikael Blomkvist. With that job done, Sony and Rudin have put Zaillian back on the adaptation of Michael Lewis's baseball expose Moneyball. When Steven Soderbergh left Moneyball after tussling over his rewrite of Zaillian's script with Sony's Amy Pascal, who then brought in Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) to overhaul the movie, Zaillian was really pissed that his original script had been abandoned. Pitt stayed on, hoping that Sorkin's draft would do the trick. Director Bennett Miller came on board, and lined up Capote star Philip Seymour Hoffman as well as Jonah Hill and Robin Wright.
Now Zaillian is returning to add some scenes that Miller wants in the script. Zaillian was unhappy with Soderbergh's direction and wanted to be back on board. This is not unusual for a big studio movie with major stars. But it can be very expensive. These are top-dollar A-list players. Wasn't Sony trying to save money on the film?
And Sorkin is supposedly staying on the picture, which starts shooting July 12. Rudin is a master at juggling delicate egos. He is also producing Dragon Tattoo director David Fincher's The Social Network, written by Sorkin, due October 15. That film, at least, is a modest-scale character study of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), not a big-budget picture with huge visual effects. (Here's a review of The Facebook Effect, yet another unflattering portrait.)
Meanwhile, looking to the future, Pitt and partner Dede Gardner's Plan B has acquired (with their Reliance development money) the popular Tom Rachman novel The Imperfectionists (which my book group chose this month), reports Deadline. The book is set at a "scrappy English-language newspaper in Rome," writes Publishers Weekly. "Chapters read like exquisite short stories, turning out the intersecting lives of the men and women who produce the paper—and one woman who reads it religiously, if belatedly." Critic Todd McCarthy read the book on his way back from Cannes, and reviews it here.
Plan B moves fast and keeps busy. Among the production company's credits are Troy, A Mighty Heart, The Departed, and the upcoming Eat, Pray, Love, starring Julia Roberts and The Tree of Life, which stars Pitt and Sean Penn and is expected to debut at the Venice International Film Festival.
[Sophia Savage contributed to this story.]