Steven Soderbergh's Slow Descent into Goofiness

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Today in Hollywood: Steven Soderbergh's going to have to make The Man From U.N.C.L.E. without George Clooney, NBC settles on a producer for the 2012 Olympics, and Josh Brolin snags the lead in Spike Lee's Old Boy remake.

  • Roger Ebert once noted that, for a good director, Steven Soderbergh more than occasionally makes "a truly inexplicable film." He said that in a review for Full Frontal in 2002, which is one of those inexplicable films. It wasn't a problem when Soderbergh was making glorious entertainments like Out of Sight or cash cows like the Ocean's Eleven franchise. But frankly, we're starting to worry that Soderbergh's inexplicable side has taken over. In the past year, he's dropped out of Moneyball (which would have been a perfect project for the former high school pitching phenom), announced his plans to retire from directing, unretired to make a Channing Tatum male stripper movie, and admitted to the The New York Times he'd really like to "explore another art form," which people think will be painting. Now Deadline reports George Clooney is "in the process of withdrawing from" his old pal's big screen adaptation of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which sounded like a terrible idea to begin with. Making things worse, Deadline's Mike Fleming says that "Warner Bros intends to stay on track for a February 2012 start for the movie," which means he's actually going to attempt this thing without Clooney. [Deadline]
  • The 2012 London Olympics, NBC's first in the post-Dick Ebersol era, will be produced by Jim Bell, the executive producer of the Today show, reports The New York Times' Bill Carter. Bell worked under Ebersol, who departed the top job at NBC Sports in May following a contract dispute, in production roles on the Olympics the network covered from Atlanta in 1996, Sydney in 2000, Salt Lake City in 2002, and Athens in 2004, where Bell was "in charge of all the daytime and late-night coverage for the games." He got the Today show job the next year. In addition to experience, Bell  brings an apparent willingness to spread himself thin. Carter says that when the official announcement is made later today, NBC will emphasize that Bell "is not leaving his assignment on Today, but will instead add the Olympics duties to his work at the morning news program." Carter writes that Bell is expected to "step away from day-to-day production of 'Today' for a period of several weeks during the Olympics coverage from London, but NBC will emphasize that he is still in charge of Today and will return at the conclusion of the games." [Media Decoder]
  • Josh Brolin has been cast in director Spike Lee's American remake of the Korean revenge thriller Old Boy. If Lee's version is faithful to the Park Chan-wook original, Brolin should start to research how to eat live octopus and meet with people who have been locked in a hotel room for 15 years as part of a wide-ranging and puzzling conspiracy as soon as possible. [Deadline]
  • Spike TV is getting out of the scripted TV business--unless you want to pitch them on the next Sopranos. "For the near future, we are concentrating on unscripted," Sharon Levy, the network's executive vice president of original series, told Variety. "That's based on a strategy that is working." That being said, Levy indicated that "she's always open to a scripted pitch." Mixed signals. Either way, it's bad news for Blue Mountain State, a grossout college football sitcom that currently is the network's only scripted program and is supposed to begin its third season on September 21. [Variety]

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