Brad Pitt baseball drama strikes out

Sun Jun 21, 2009 9:39pm EDT

Cast member Brad Pitt attends a news conference for the film ''Inglourious Basterds'' by Director Quentin Tarantino at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 20, 2009. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Cast member Brad Pitt attends a news conference for the film ''Inglourious Basterds'' by Director Quentin Tarantino at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 20, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Just days away from the start of shooting, Columbia has taken Steven Soderbergh's baseball drama "Moneyball" starring Brad Pitt off the field.

Pulling the plug this close to production is extremely rare for studios but sources said Columbia's president of production Amy Pascal wasn't comfortable with the script, which had changed considerably since the movie was greenlit.

The decision, which was made Friday, mystified many since the picture was crewed up and scheduled to start shooting this week, with some wondering how issues with the script could give a studio cold feet so late in the game.

Steven Zaillian and Soderbergh wrote the screenplay (with the most recent barely a week old), adapting Michael Lewis' nonfiction book about the Oakland Athletics and their GM Billy Beane, who assembled a contending ballclub despite having a payroll much lower than other Major League teams.

Pitt and comedian Demetri Martin were the major actors cast, with other roles to be played by actual baseball players. Soderbergh also shot interviews with real baseball figures, which were going to be interspersed between the narrative.

Pascal had not seen the interviews and some insiders suggest there was a disconnect about the kind of baseball drama the exec and the filmmaker wanted to make. Pascal was leery, the sources said, fearing the film lacked emotion.

Pascal is a big fan of the book and allowed Soderbergh to shop the project over the weekend to Warner Bros., which once housed Soderbergh's shingle Section Eight, and Paramount, home to Pitt's Plan B. The companies would have to act fast as the production and its staff can only sit idle so long. If no one snags the package, Columbia could take another crack at it, and try to sync up Soderbergh's and the studio's vision.

(Editing by Dean Gooodman at Reuters)

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