It was confirmed by an online source over at Collider.com that Steven Speilberg has dropped out of the upcoming drama The Trial of the Chicago 7. The courtroom drama about activist Abbie Hoffman (rumored to be played by Sacha Baron Cohen) and his gang, scripted by Aaron Sorkin (Charlie Wilson’s War), was set to begin filming sometime this spring, but due to this news will surely be put on hold.
The question remains: Why did Speilberg drop out of the production? The theory in the Collider piece is that Speilberg, known to be an avid reader of internet talkbacks, had a change of heart after seeing that moviegoers that visit websites like FSR, Aintitcool, and others were unhappy with the Indiana Jones director taking on such a project.
I don’t know if I buy that. I don’t doubt that he would read that material on the internet, but c’mon, he’s Steven Fucking Speilberg. If anything, someone saying he isn’t right for the material would give a director who’s done it all a little fuel for his fire. Nothing feels better than proving someone wrong, and I think he would’ve stepped up (2 the streets) to the task. No, my guess is that of all the projects he’s linked to, this one seemed to be the one to get the axe.
If you look at Speilberg’s IMDb entry, he’s a busy dude. In addition to producing Shia LaBeouf’s Eagle Eye, Stephen Sommers’ When Worlds Collide, and Stephen King’s The Talisman, he’s also expressed interest in directing Liam Neeson in Lincoln, tackling 1/3 of Tintin, and going back to sci-fi territory with Interstellar. So as I’m sure he’ll still remain involved with Chicago 7 in some capacity, he’s just stepped down from directing so that things can move forward with the project. I mean, look what happened with Indy 4–they had to wait YEARS before everybody was available to begin working on it because nobody wanted to relinquish responsibility to another party (plus they went through several scripts). Speilberg has the integrity to say that if he couldn’t dedicate all his time to a project like this, it may just be better in the hands of someone else.
So what’s next for Chicago 7? Is Cohen still aboard (or was he ever)? How about Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Will Smith, and Colin Hanks? Most importantly, though, who will direct and when will shooting begin?
Dear producers, I have a suggestion: Mike Nichols is available. He just recently had success with Hoffman and Colin Hanks’ dad with Charlie Wilson’s War. He could really run with material like this, especially because it deals with the rebellious spirit of the ’60s, possibly recalling The Graduate. A director like Nichols could really do well with this material.
Just… don’t let him cast Julia Roberts.