Labor negotiations between the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers are scheduled to resume today, but they’ll come too late to save Brad Pitt‘s involvement in the Taylor Hackford-directed remake of Paul Abbott‘s State of Play.
Variety reports that Pitt left the project the day before Thanksgiving, claiming the studio forced his hand by refusing to wait for a strike resolution and insisting on moving forward with an unworkable script. Universal, according to Variety, spent the weekend trying to convince Russell Crowe to take Pitt’s place — and perhaps deciding whether to sue Pitt. From the article:
If the studio chooses to sue Pitt, it would test the validity of a pay-or-play deal. Universal believed that Pitt signed one, while Pitt’s reps believed he didn’t, because he never approved a shooting script that got rewritten numerous times and never to his satisfaction.
Unfortunately, Pitt and the studio never quite meshed on the script, said several sources. He sparked to Matthew Michael Carnahan‘s original adaptation of the Paul Abbott-created British miniseries but apparently liked it more than the studio. While the actor made several movies in quick succession, Universal got rewrites by the likes of Peter Morgan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray. Pitt’s vision departed from that of the studio somewhere along that rewrite trail.
Crowe has Ridley Scott‘s Nottingham on tap for March, so he’d need to fit State of Play into a relatively small window. If an agreement can’t be reached, Universal would either need to find another star in a hurry or risk losing its cast — including Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, and Jason Bateman — to other projects.