The Kevin Macdonald-directed adaptation of the critically acclaimed British miniseries was supposed to begin production on November 15. Instead, the industry trades are reporting that the helmer and Pitt had spent two weeks of meetings figuring out if they could iron out script concerns, since screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan can't make any adjustments mid-strike.
Pitt was set to play a former political operative whose new job as a journalist takes a turn when a murder investigation involves his former friend and colleague, an up-and-coming politician (Edward Norton).
Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter say that Universal is leaving open the possibility of suing the actor for violating a pay-or-play commitment, a suit that will become a more real possibility if recasting causes other co-stars to fall out of the production. Pitt was the centerpiece for "State of Play," anchoring the project before Macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland") or any of the other performers were attached.
Variety indicates that a number of high profile script doctors -- including Peter Morgan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray -- had done rewrites on Carnahan's script, but that Pitt wanted to return to something closer to the version that attracted Pitt in the first place.
It's unclear what direction Universal will turn, though certainly a number of A-list actors are suddenly available due to strike-based delays on other films. With "Angels & Demons" and "Shantaram" on the shelf, for example, Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp may be looking for films to slot in before possible additional strikes next summer.