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Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt in Atlas Shrugged? Hiatus May Doom Reunion

May 26, 2007

Angelina Jolie's statement that she'll take a year off from the movie world next year might be great news for her family, but maybe not so great for the long-awaited screen version of Ayn Rand's classic "Atlas Shrugged." The project has gone through various hands and forms -- including an incomplete script by Rand herself -- for more than 35 years.

Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt in Atlas Shrugged? Hiatus May Doom Screen Reunion

Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt in Atlas Shrugged? Hiatus May Doom Screen Reunion

The current "Atlas Shrugged" film adaptation has been looking very promising, with Jolie attached to play Dagny Taggart, the railroad executive determined to keep her business going while the society she lives in is falling apart. The story, which has sharp cultural and political resonances for today, has been scripted by Randall Wallace ("Braveheart," "We Were Soldiers"). It is to be produced by the Baldwin Entertainment Group -- which brought us "Ray" and "Sahara," among other films. Brad Pitt has been rumored as a possible casting for the character of John Galt, and there've even been reports of a projected 2008 release.

However, Angelina is now making "Wanted" with Morgan Freeman and James McAvoy in Prague. And according to Baldwin's executive vice president of development, Nick Morton, "We're still trying to attach a director" to the "Atlas" movie.

And by the time that happens? "I wouldn't want to speak for Angelina Jolie about what she wants to do," says Morton with a shrug of his own. "It's the movie business."

MEANWHILE: The Baldwin Entertainment Group has "several projects that are vying for a fall production," he says. Those include the Jackie Robinson bio-pic in which Robert Redford is to play famed Major League Baseball executive Branch Rickey, who signed Robinson, the legendary athlete who broke the color barrier in the pro baseball leagues. Robinson himself has yet to be cast.

The firm's impressive slate also includes a Gordie Howe flick to be produced by David E. Kelley, from the book written by the hockey great and his wife, Colleen. Howe himself is involved as exec producer, and it's being scripted now.

RIDE 'EM: Esteemed filmmaker Walter Hill has just put the finishing touches on a pilot script for a prospective Western series for AMC. "We're hoping to get a green light," he says. If the proposed show is anywhere close to being as good as his "Broken Trail" miniseries, also for the cable firm, he should get that go-ahead straightaway.

Hill already won honors from the Directors Guild of America for the epic that stars Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church. Emmy attention is a distinct probability.

He tells us getting his cast together was the easy part. Duvall "developed the project. He came with it," notes Hill of the Western saga of men on a horse drive who wind up taking care of a group of abused Chinese girls who've been sold into slavery/prostitution. And Church readily came aboard as Duvall's nephew, a gruff, silent sort who can be provoked into confronting bad guys with extreme violence. "Tom was predisposed to do a Western. He's from Texas, owns a ranch, lives on a ranch. He'd never had a part like this," the director says. "It was the right time, and the right place, and there was a hole in his 'Spiderman' schedule."

The hard parts included dealing with a herd of some 400 horses "on a daily basis" -- with only eight wranglers. "That was always a question in budget meetings," Hill recalls, smiling. He adds, "Working with the horses, you kind of have this almost mystical connection to nature. The herd has a decision-making process of their own, through their leaders. I felt connected to the characters because of that."

THE FAME GAME: With credits that include "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Bergundy," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Night at the Museum," Paul Rudd says he still remains relatively anonymous -- and is perfectly happy being "kind of on the outside a little bit." The funnyman tells Entertainment Weekly, in the issue hitting stands tomorrow (5/25), that he's still perceived as "that guy from 'Clueless,'" adding that fans of "Friends" often greet him with a "Hey, how's Phoebe?' And he doesn't expect his somewhat-known status to be messed up by "Knocked Up," his summer comedy with Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl.

Rudd also talks about family life in New York's West Village with his wife of four years, Julie, "a full-time mom," and their son Jack, who is 2. Jack, he notes, "loves Loudon Wainwright III. He's really into the Shins' new record. Last week, he was terrified of a Nickelback song, and now he loves it," he continues. "Though I don't admit that readily." Who would?

(With reports by Stephanie DuBois and Emily Feimster)

 

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