(Scott Hatteberg, apparently not ready for his close-up)
Variety’s Peter Bart and Michael Fleming report Steven Soderbergh’s hotly anticipated film adaptation of Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball” has been placed in turnaround by Columbia Pictures. Who knew Joe Morgan had so much influence in Hollywood?
The move came after Columbia’s Amy Pascal read a rewrite that Soderbergh did to Steven Zaillian’s script and found it very different from the earlier scripts she championed. Pascal was uncomfortable enough with how the vision had changed that she applied the brakes.
If a new financier doesn’t emerge by today, Columbia will re-examine options that include replacing Soderbergh (and hoping Pitt doesn’t ankle), delaying the film until Pascal and the filmmaker find themselves in synch on the script or pulling the plug.
Even in the climate of heightened studio caution, the turnaround news on “Moneyball” is surprising given that the project had reached the equivalent of third base. It was just 96 hours before the participants were ready to take the field, following three months of prep and with camera tests completed and cast and budget in place.
Aside from actors like Brad Pitt and Demetri Martin, Soderbergh is using real ballplayers — such as former A’s Scott Hatteberg and David Justice — as actors, and he also has shot interviews with such ballplayers as Beane’s former Mets teammates Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry. Those vignettes would be interspersed in the film. While Soderbergh is confident his take will work visually, Columbia brass had doubts on a film that costs north of $50 million.