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Uni pursuing Crowe for ''Play''

Universal wants Russell Crowe for ”State of Play” following Brad Pitt’s contentious exit due to a disgreement over the script

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Russell Crowe
Danielle Abramowicz/WireImage.com

Universal reportedly spent last weekend talking to Russell Crowe about starring in its upcoming Kevin McDonald-directed feature State of Play. Crowe would serve as a replacement for Brad Pitt, who left the project last Wednesday (Nov. 21) after disagreements over the script. Production was originally set to start on Nov. 15. Pitt says he never approved a final script and was forced out of the movie because the studio would not wait until the end of the writers’ strike to make changes that would make him comfortable. Universal claims that Pitt left a commitment. ”Brad Pitt has left the Universal Pictures production of State of Play,” the statement read. ”We remain committed to this project and to the filmmakers, cast members, crew and others who are also involved in making the movie. We reserve all rights in this matter.” Universal needs to start production on Play soon or it risks losing other cast members, especially Helen Mirren who is committed to start work on Love Ranch early next year with husband-director Taylor Hackford and co-star Joe Pesci. State of Play also stars Edward Norton, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, and Jason Bateman. Universal is talking to Crowe about playing a politico-turned-journalist whose loyalties are tested when he spearheads a newspaper’s investigation into a murder. It is based on a Paul Abbott-created British miniseries. Pitt has been involved with the project for the past 16 months, and even had a role in selecting McDonald to direct. He was on board with Michael Carnahan’s original adaptation, but he was not happy with the rewrites Universal had done. Pitt left the project after several days of unsuccessful talks with McDonald and the studio. Universal, which says it is still committed to a late 2008 release, could decide to sue Pitt over the flap. The studio previously filed a breach-of-contract suit against Mike Myers when he left Dieter because he was unhappy with the script. A settlement was reached. (Variety)