Collider’s Steve Weintraub is reporting that Steven Spielberg has bailed out of directing the Trial of the Chicago 7 movie, but Deadline Hollywood Daily‘s Nikki Finke is reporting that Spielberg “has backed off setting an April start date…and won’t finalize a new start date until the Screen Actors Guild and AMPTP agree on a deal,” in part because he feels that Aaron Sorkin‘s script needs more work.

(l. to r.) Steven Spielberg, Abbie Hoffman, Sacha Baron Cohen, Will Smith

I called Spielberg spokesperson Marvin Levy at the start of lunch hour to check on this, but all I got was a message machine. And then Levy didn’t feel obliged to call back. Nice!
I’ve been saying that the marriage of Spielberg and the Chicago 7 story is a bad idea since early January. (Even with a reputedly “great” script by Sorkin and rumors about Will Smith playing Bobby Seale and Sacha Baron Cohen playing Abbie Hoffman, etc.
Finke seems to have a more acurate version of the story. Weintraub says he’s (a) confirmed the Spielberg bail-out with two sources and (b) believes that CHUD’s Devin Faraci having written that Spielberg was the wrong guy to direct it may have been a factor. (Don’t think so!) The movie has been listed on the IMDB as being in pre-production, which of course means nothing.
Interesting timing (if the story’s true) in view of the opening of Brett Morgen‘s Chicago 10, which tells the same story with animation and whatnot, opening just around the corner on 2.29.
Make the Abraham Lincoln movie with Liam Neeson. Make the Abraham Lincoln movie with Liam Neeson. Make the friggin’ Abraham Lincoln movie with Liam Neeson already!