Russell Crowe May 'Play' in Pitt's Place

State of Play (movie)Rachel McAdamsEdward NortonCrime, Law and JusticeCrimeHelen MirrenRussell Crowe

Russell Crowe is in final negotiations to replace Brad Pitt in Universal's "State of Play."

Should Crowe sign on for the project, as The Hollywood Reporter is saying, it would save the adaptation of the British miniseries from a demise that seemed inevitable when Pitt exited last week.

The trade paper says that "State of Play" director Kevin Macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland") visited Crowe in Australia over the weekend to see if his film could be wedged in before the "Gladiator" star moved on to another Universal project, Ridley Scott's "Nottingham."

The actual result of those scheduling negotiations is a bit ambiguous, since the "Robin Hood" reimagining appears to be on Crowe's plate still.

Assuming the sides reach an agreement, Crowe would play a former political operative whose new job as a journalist takes a turn when he starts investigating a murder that may have ties to his former friend and colleague, an up-and-coming politician (Edward Norton).

Supporting roles are being filled by Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and Robin Wright Penn, though Mirren's timetable is particular slim.

Pitt was the first talent attached to Matthew Michael Carnahan's script, but the A-lister was reportedly concerned that a series of script doctors -- including Peter Morgan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray -- had moved the project too far from the vision he originally committed to. After Pitt's departure, Universal sources told the trades that the studio might still sue the actor for violating his play-or-pay deal.

Crowe has had a busy fall, earning strong reviews for the western "3:10 to Yuma" and generating big box office with "American Gangster." He's currently finishing work with the political drama "Body of Lies."

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