Playwright Tony Kushner, who’s been laboring on a script for Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln movie for a very long time, is right now taking part in a discussion at a Harvard University Institute of Politics forum panel discussion called “Looking For Lincoln: In His Time and Ours — A Conversation on the Meaning of Abraham Lincoln.” It began at 6 pm at the John F. Kennedy Forum.

In any event, a longtime HE reader in attendance informs by cell-phone e-mail that Kushner has said “the decision will be made on Lincoln next week” and that if the green light is given the film will be “out by Christmas.” That’s pretty fast work for a expensive period film that’ll use a lot of CG, no? Even if Spielberg passes on Civil War battle scenes.

Kushner also said that Lincoln “only covers two months of his life,” my guy says, and that “the first draft covered four months and [was] 500 pages.”

Kushner also said that the 13th amendment — the abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude — “is a big thing in the movie.”

One presumes that Kushner meant that the film will cover the last two months of Lincoln’s life, or roughly February 15th to April 15th, 1865 — the day of his death. The 13th amendment was enacted on December 6, 1865, so there’ll apparently be a little skipping around, event- and chronology-wise.

If any attention is to be paid to the Civil War during the last 60 days of Lincoln’s term, possible inclusions would be (a) the Union victory at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1st, which forced Gen. Robert E. Lee to evacuate Petersburg and Richmond, the Confederate capital, (b) a subsequent rebel loss at Sayler’s Creek, and (c) Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865, in the village of Appomattox Court House.

When I spoke to Liam Neeson (who will most likely play Lincoln) in the summer of ’05, he said he understood that the film would span the full arc of Lincoln’s time in the White House, beginning in March 1861.