Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke is saying “there’s no truth to the internet rumor that Imagine’s Ron Howard has a deal, or is close to a deal” with Warren Beatty to play Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, Howard’s forthcoming film about interviewer David Frost and the U.S. president who used to sweat profusely on his upper lip.

Finke is referring to my report that went up yesterday, which was based on speaking to a certain party in the loop. The way I phrased it was that the Beatty deal isn’t “signed, sealed and delivered” but that it’s “nearly complete.” (I also quoted a guy with ties to Beatty who said, “Naaah, that’s not gonna happen.”)

Finke says she “understands” that Howard, the film’s director, “has talked to a few possibilities which include Beatty but there won’t be a decision for a few weeks. Which probably means, given Warren’s usual hemming and hawing, he’ll be passed over.” Maybe, and maybe somebody in the Imagine camp is trying to backpedal. But Beatty was offered the role two months ago, I’ve been told, and the interest has been real all along, and Beatty being the most likely final choice isn’t regarded as a hot-air “rumor” by the people I spoke to.

Also: how come Finke didn’t name any of the other “possibilities” who are allegedly being considered to fill the Nixon role? Not naming alternates tells me Finke’s source was mainly blowing smoke.