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Weekend Reading: What the Heck Happened to That Brad Pitt Baseball Movie?

Last weekend, the entertainment industry was shocked when Sony pulled the plug on Steven Soderbergh's baseball movie that was going to star Brad Pitt — just days before the movie was supposed to start shooting.

Based on a bestseller by Michael Lewis, Moneyball was going to be a feature-length film about the true story of Oakland Athletics' general manager Billy Beane (Pitt) who put together a successful baseball team based on a new way of measuring a player's skill via stats. It might sound kind of dry, but having read both the book and an early, leaked version of the script, I can vouch for it being a compelling story. So, I'm officially bummed that this project appears to be stuck in development hell and may never hit the big screen.

High-profile projects with big-name stars and directors don't get swiftly killed all that often — so what the heck happened? Two articles this week shed some light on the whole debacle, and they're fascinating reads if you're interested in this project and/or the inner workings of the Hollywood studio system.

First, Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal gives her side of the story in this LA Times piece. Apparently, Soderbergh made some drastic, last-minute changes to the script:

"I've wanted to work with Steven forever, because he's simply a great filmmaker," Pascal told me today. "But the draft he turned in wasn't at all what we'd signed up for. He wanted to make a dramatic reenactment of events with real people playing themselves. I'd still work with Steven in a minute, but in terms of this project, he wanted to do the film in a different way than we did."

For more on what happened with Moneyball, just read more.

Then there's this New York Times article that fills in details on some of Soderbergh's changes, some of which were made to make Major League Baseball happier with the film's accuracy:

What baseball saw as accurate, Sony executives saw as being too much a documentary. Mr. Soderbergh, for instance, planned to film interviews with some of the people who were connected to the film’s story. The executives, who had just seen disappointing results from The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and Year One, rebelled.

As of now, the film is mostly considered dead, though there's thought that a different director could come in to make a movie out of the version of the script that Sony originally approved. After reading the stories, do you think Soderbergh was in the wrong for making the last-minute changes? Or do you think Sony got too skittish about a movie that still could have been good? And if Moneyball ever does get made, would you go see it?

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