Has Soderbergh's Moneyball Movie Been Canned?

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June 22 2009 12:23 PM

Has Soderbergh's Moneyball Movie Been Canned?

Variety reported yesterday that the Steven Soderbergh/Brad Pitt production of Moneyball , Michael Lewis' great book about how Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane used statistics to change baseball, was closed down just 96 hours before shooting began. Apparently, Columbia Pictures chief Amy Pascal read Soderbergh's latest revision to the script, became wary of big changes in it, and pulled the plug, leaving the director casting about for a new studio. One unusual element in the planned film? Soderbergh intended to splice "interviews with such ballplayers as Beane's former Mets teammates Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry" throughout. 

This news raises the possibility of two grim outcomes: 1) that Moneyball may never get made and 2) that if it does get made, it may not be any good. Although interviews with Dykstra are always entertaining , the plan to include documentary footage worries those of us who are big fans of blockbuster Soderbergh (director of Out of Sight , Erin Brockovich and the Ocean's Eleven movies) and less enamored of his arty, experimental alter ego (director of Bubble and the two-part, four hour-plus Che epic). We'd assumed that Moneyball , the tale of a general manager leading a poor, underdog team to unprecedented success, would be a kind of Ballpark Eleven : A heist movie about a team of likeable smartypantses (including Pitt as Beane, comedian Demitri Martin as number-cruncher Paul De Podesta, and charming ballplayer Scott Hatteberg as himself) sticking it to the smug baseball establishment. But perhaps Pascal got spooked because Soderbergh has something more unorthodox in mind: A star-studded feature film intercut with a semi-documentary meditation on Beane himself. We may never know!

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.

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