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Breaking: George Clooney Orbiting ‘Gravity’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Warner Bros has confirmed that George Clooney is set.

EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that George Clooney is now in talks to replace Robert Downey Jr in starring alongside Sandra Bullock in Gravity, the Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures 3D film that will be directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Deadline broke the story that Downey was going to bow out of the project because of scheduling problems. The plan at this point is to begin production in late April or early May, which would give Bullock the chance to complete the Warner Bros drama Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the Stephen Daldry-directed film that also stars Tom Hanks and newcomer Thomas Horn.

Clooney will replace Downey in the role of team leader of a space station. He and Bullock’s character, off working on a shuttle, are the sole survivors when the space station is decimated by the debris field from an exploded asteroid. Bullock will carry much of the action adventure, a mother who is hellbent on returning to her young child back on earth. Clooney is working the space schedule around The Ides of March, the adaptation of the Beau Willimon play. Clooney is directing and starring alongside Ryan Gosling in the political drama for Sony Pictures Entertainment and Cross Creek Pictures.

Cuaron wrote the script with his son, Jonas, and David Heyman is producing. Given the hardships Gravity has weathered, this … Read More »

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Robert Downey Jr. Exiting ‘Gravity?’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing scheduling problems have made Robert Downey Jr. suddenly doubtful for Gravity, the Alfonso Cuaron-directed Warner Bros space film that weathered a bunch of setbacks before finding its footing when it landed Sandra Bullock for the lead female role. Now, Warner Bros is denying Downey will exit, despite what I’m hearing. The studio is saying they expect to work out the scheduling problems, and executives certainly have access to Downey at the moment because he’s junketing the Todd Phillips-directed Due Date. I’m also hearing that Bullock is among those lobbying him to stay. A Downey exit is a blow: just wait until you see what he brings to Due Date. But it’s not necessarily fatal, because he was playing a supporting part. Read More »

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And In Other Deals…

Mike Fleming

Warner Bros has bought a pitch that will be developed to re-team The Proposal star Sandra Bullock and director Anne Fletcher. The script will be written by Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis. The studio recently signed Bullock to team with Robert Downey Jr. in the Alfonso Cuaron-directed film Gravity…Robin Williams is in discussions to play the title role of a talking tiger in the Broadway transplant of Rajiv Joseph’s play Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo.

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Will Sandy Bullock Board ‘Gravity’ Now That Natalie Portman Is Out?

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Insiders say that Warner Bros is making a full court press for Sandra Bullock to play the role of a space station team member who tries to find her way back to earth and her daughter after the space station she is working on is destroyed by a debris field from an exploded asteroid. Bullock, coming off the Oscar win for The Blind Side, certainly has the drawing power and the chops to hold the screen. Numerous actresses have wanted to make the film because it is ambitious and original, and also because for the opportunity to work with director Alfonso Cuaron, which is a major reason Robert Downey Jr. agreed to co-star. Portman’s reps confirmed that she won’t star in Gravity, citing scheduling conflicts. Read More »

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Natalie Portman In “Gravity” Orbit

Mike Fleming

What fortuitous timing for Natalie Portman’s tour de force in Black Swan to be unveiled on the festival circuit! The Oscar buzz for her performance certainly helped Portman get the offer for the female lead in the Alfonso Cuaron-directed 3D thrill ride Gravity. When Deadline described Warner Bros’ dilemma last week as it tried to find an actress who could carry nearly the entire $80 million film on her shoulders following Angelina Jolie’s decision to pass for a second time, we reported that the studio was focusing on Portman and Sandra Bullock. The movie belongs to the actress and not co-star Robert Downey Jr., who’ll spend only about three weeks filming. Portman, who is more age-appropriate for the role as Cuaron and his son Jonas wrote it, is an intriguing choice here and it seemed just a matter of time until she found her breakout vehicle.

From her childhood roles in The Professional and Beautiful Girls to her shockingly adult turn in the little-seen Mike Nichols-directed Closer, Portman has always been an out-sized talent waiting to grow past her youthful look. It’s also hard not to root for the 29-year old Portman, considering how badly she wanted the Lisbeth Salander role in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, which begins this fall with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Portman tried very hard to buy the book series before Sony Pictures Entertainment and producer Scott Rudin got it. Director David Fincher wanted a … Read More »

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Angelina Jolie Pass Puts ‘Gravity’ In Shaky Orbit For Warner Bros

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Gravity, the 3D film that Warner Bros is mobilizing with director Alfonso Cuaron and Robert Downey Jr., is suddenly in danger of falling back to earth after Angellina Jolie said no to a full court press and a big money offer to star in the film. It has put Warner Bros in a bind. The studio needs an actress who can hold the screen and draw an audience to an $80 million film. Much like Tom Hanks’  role in Cast Away, the Gravity heroine is the only person onscreen for a large part of the movie. Beyond Jolie, which other actress do you bet on?

Cuaron first courted Jolie when the project was tethered at Universal. She was intrigued with the filmmaker, but passed around the time it landed at Warner Bros. I’m told the studio tested or made approaches to actresses including Sandra Bullock and Natalie Portman (word around town is the studio’s intrigued with both), Naomi Watts, Marion Cotillard, Carey Mulligan, Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, Abbie Cornish, Rebecca Hall, Olivia Wilde, Blake Lively. Warner Bros made a second overture to Jolie, but she just passed for a second time. While Downey certainly has the star power to carry such a movie, he plays a comparatively small role and it was never Downey’s or Cuaron’s intention for him to carry the picture.

Scripted by Cuaron and his son Jonas, Gravity is set on a remote space station. While a team … Read More »

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