Steven Spielberg Delays The Trial of the Chicago 7?
Over the last few months there have been various early-stage news reports surrounding The Trial of the Chicago 7, including word we brought in December of Sacha Baron Cohen assuming the role of hippie Abbie Hoffman; this would be Cohen's first foray into true drama. The biggest news, however, is that Steven Spielberg had expressed interest in the film, which is a surprise to many given the many projects he has lined up, including the 3D cartoon Tintin and the biopic, Lincoln. Continued rumors arrived yesterday that Spielberg's involvement may be hanging by a very thin thread.
Collider reports yesterday that the latest innuendo indicates Spielberg will, in fact, be walking away from the project - a fact confirmed by two sources. Shortly after that piece appeared, Nikki Finke stated on Deadline Hollywood that the director is actually just pushing the start date given the possibility of an actors strike and that he's still very much interested and involved. However, disbanding a production and poised leads is no small decision and doesn't guarantee those actors will be available down the line.
Part of Chicago 7's notoriety has been even more rumors surrounding its roster. Back in January Vanity Fair brought us those tantalizing first photos of Spielberg's latest, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, along with a lengthy interview with the master filmmaker. In that piece, editor Jim Windolf reports that during a visit to the Amblin Entertainment production house, he spied material and headshots related to The Chicago 7, including those of Will Smith, Kevin Spacey and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Such news only fueled the fire of Spielberg's reported involvement, despite being no official confirmation from the director or his reps.
While Nikki Finke's account of the latest state of Spielber's involvement seems more plausible, she does contract this earlier casting news. She states Chicago 7 will be "a lower-budget movie" and that she's "told the rest of the Chicago defendants [would] be played by unknowns." This doesn't exactly jive with Variety's leaks, so who knows what to think.
Rumor reporting is a tiring job, but such chasing is expected with anything surrounding Spielberg's projects. I hope that he or his reps will come forward soon and clear the air a bit. The Screen Actors Guild contract expires in June, so it should be pretty clear in the next month or so whether production could begin on the film, or if it'll definitely be shelved until contract negotiations have settled and things are a bit stable.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a new film written by Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, "The West Wing", Charlie Wilson's War) based on the events and story surrounding the riots from the 1968 Democratic National Convention.