February 24, 2009 at 12:00 PM EST

You know times are tough when a Steven Spielberg movie is no longer considered a slam-dunk for any studio in Hollywood. After a flurry of news reports surfaced about the on-again, off-again status of Spielberg’s longtime passion project about the life of Abraham Lincoln, a credible source told EW that the project had been shelved after Paramount and a series of other major studios all passed on the $50 million biopic. According to the source, it was less a sign of the father of the modern blockbuster’s waning power than of the cold reality that studios are clamping down on greenlighting anything but the most broad commercial fare.

But Spielberg’s longtime publicist, Marvin Levy, insists that the rumors are untrue and that Lincoln (with Taken star Liam Neeson in the title role) is still moving full steam ahead. “Lincoln is alive and well and continues in active development,” Levy tells EW. “Everyone is proceeding with great enthusiasm. The script is still being revised by Tony Kushner and our plans are now to shoot the picture later this year.”

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