Though Michael Lewis' bestseller Moneyball: The Art Of Winning An Unfair Game is a highly entertaining and even mind-changing book, very little about its true story of stat-heads transforming the business of baseball screams "movie." And apparently Columbia Pictures—which owns the big-screen rights to Moneyball—has belatedly realized exactly what they're up against. Less than three days before director Steven Soderbergh's take on Moneyball was set to begin principal photography—with Brad Pitt playing Oakland A's GM Billy Beane and Demetri Martin playing Beane's former assistant Paul DePodesta—Columbia chairman Amy Pascal has put the $50 million-budgeted film in "limited turnaround," giving Soderbergh and Pitt until today to find another studio home, before Columbia reclaims the project and demands changes in the script or the direction. According to early reports, Soderbergh had some radical plans for his Moneyball, including having ex-ballplayers (like David Justice) play themselves, shooting interviews with some of the real people involved with the story, and using an animated version of stat guru Bill James to explain some of the more complicated mathematics of Beane and DePodesta's methods. Pascal is reportedly balking because Soderbergh and the film's original screenwriter Steve Zaillian have ranged so far from the script Columbia bought (and, perhaps, because Soderbergh lately seems more interested in making movies that interest him than ones that earn back $50-million budgets). If Moneyball proceeds with Soderbegh at the helm, don't be surprised if the announcement is quickly followed by the news that the director will next be making a movie about bank-robbing movie stars.
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