Sony Takes The Air Out Of The Steven Soderbergh/Brad Pitt Project, ‘Moneyball’

Those of you who are desperate for summer jobs, or are suffering the sting of a layoff, it might help you to know that not even a superstar like Brad Pitt is immune to unemployment woes. Pitt and director Steven Soderbergh were set to begin shooting “Moneyball” in Phoenix on Monday, but Sony has called a time out and put the film into limited turnaround.

“Moneyball” is based on Michael Lewis’ bestselling book of the same name, which profiled the Oakland A’s general manager, Billy Beane. That’s a baseball team, by the way. Beane harnessed the power of computer-based analysis to assemble a crack squad out of one of the smallest budgets in major league baseball.

With Soderbergh at the helm, “Moneyball” has steered away from being a traditional underdog sports flick. Instead, the director has shot footage at MLB games and has cast real baseball players from Beane’s managerial and professional career (Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson, Darryl Strawberry, Scott Hatteberg and David Justice were all set to appear). He’s also created an animated Bill James character to act as a host for the story.

According to Variety, the film’s unusual direction is causing alarm at Columbia Pictures. Problems arose when Soderbergh rewrote Steven Zaillian’s script; the film’s champion and studio co-chairwoman Amy Pascal disliked the changes. Pascal was uncomfortable with the direction the film was taking, and called a halt to the production as a result.

Columbia is giving Soderbergh the chance to set it up at another studio, but if anyone fails to pick up “Moneyball,” there’s no telling what may happen to Soderbergh’s efforts on the film thus far. Columbia may work with Soderbergh to change the script, or they may just replace him, a move which could then cost them Pitt. “Moneyball” is looking at major delays, and it could just be canceled altogether.

Were you looking forward to “Moneyball”? Do you think Columbia should trust Soderbergh and his vision, or would you like to see Beane’s story adapted in a more straightforward way?