General News

Shuffling the Deck of Stars

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Mar 19, 2001 | 11:50am EST

The big, bad and seemingly unavoidable Screen Actors Guild strike is still almost a year away, but the studios and filmmakers in Tinseltown are already scrambling to get their stars under contract, shoot their films and fold their tents before picketing begins next summer.

According to today's Hollywood Reporter, several big productions are scrambling to get under way, including Steven Soderbergh's star-studded remake of "Ocean's Eleven," and Russell Crowe's recent shoulder injury probably means that Jodie Foster's next directorial effort will get shelved.

In the case of "Ocean's," the trade says, it appears that stars George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt (who, ostensibly, would take roles originally done by Frank Sinatra, Angie Dickinson and Dean Martin) are locked in, but Mark Wahlberg may have to duck out because of a conflict with the shooting schedule for Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes" remake.

Because of the strike, there's no room for shuffling shooting schedules. So, Matt Damon might step in for Wahlberg -- provided that Damon's work on "The Bourne Identity" isn't affected?

Confused? Well, there's more. Bruce Willis may also have to skip "Ocean's Eleven," and his role reportedly has already been offered to Ewan McGregor. And brothers Owen and Luke Wilson may have to pass, too, because of their commitment to star in Wes Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums." Instead, their parts might be taken by director-brothers Joel and Ethan Coen.

OK, now catch your breath.

"The Royal Tenenbaums" (which, by the way, is a comedy about a family of geniuses) has tentative commitments from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Danny Glover, Ben Stiller and Gene Hackman. But if Paltrow takes the role, it could spell casting trouble for the producers of "The Hours," who have offered Paltrow the lead.

Then there's the matter of "Flora Plum," a boutique film to be helmed by Foster, and which was scheduled to go before the camera in several weeks. Crowe's injury will prevent him from performing the role (which requires physical stunts of some type, apparently), thus pushing it closer to the strike deadline, meaning the film might just get canned altogether.

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