Actors Shuffle Films in Pre-Strike Frenzy

Some films are already feeling the impact of the looming actors' strike, particularly Steve Soderbergh's all-star ensemble remake of Ocean's Eleven, which was depending on several A-list actors to work for lower rates.

As studios race to complete their films before the actors' strike that may hit July 1, big stars just can't afford to squander their time on smaller pics.

Already abandoning the Ocean's ship is Mark Wahlberg, who's tied up with his lead role in Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes remake. Wahlberg may be replaced by another blond hunk — Matt Damon. That is, if Damon's able to squeeze it in around his starring role in The Bourne Identity.

Bruce Willis may be replaced by Ewan McGregor, who's already been offered the Die Hard star's role in Ocean's, according to Variety's Michael Fleming.

If brothers Luke and Owen Wilson, who had earlier been announced for the casino heist film, are tied up with the follow-up to Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums, Soderbergh may turn to two other brothers: Joel and Ethan Coen. Trouble is, they've also got a project in the pipeline: their untitled Barber Project noir, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Frances McDormand. The Coens, it should be noted, have never acted before.

Despite such high-profile departures, Soderbergh's snazzy remake still boasts plenty of big names: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts are all committed, says Fleming.

Plum's Goose Cooked? And a strike would certainly mean curtains for Jodie Foster's little circus film, Flora Plum. With lead Russell Crowe sidelined for at least nine months due to a shoulder injury, the film was already on the shelf, and in nine months, an actors' strike could be in full swing.

That's too bad for Jodie, since it may be the last time Crowe's services can be had so cheaply. Post-Gladiator, the accented hunk's now worth $15 million. Since Jodie's a pal, however, perhaps they can work something out.

A delay will likely mean losing the participation of co-star Claire Danes, who took a semester hiatus from Yale to do the film.

Sources tell Variety that USA is in talks with its insurers to settle up on pre-production costs for the film, though the studio said that no final decision has yet been made. Apparently, there's been no consideration of recasting Crowe's part, that of a deformed circus "freak."

Spacey Donates, Pranksters Make a Big Statement

In other strike news, Kevin Spacey has donated $100,000 to the cause of the on-strike commercial actors.

A different kind of strike support was shown by vandals who altered the famous Hollywood sign by draping a 50-foot "No Scabs" banner over the second letter of the Tinseltown landmark, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The sign is heavily secured to prevent such tinkering, and the vandals were all caught on security cameras, says a supervisor at the city's Recreation and Parks Department, which maintains the sign. "[The sign] is a tempting target, but it's dangerous, especially under cover of night," said a parks spokeswoman. "People have been hurt before. That's why we have security up there. We don't want people to get hurt."

Reuters contributed to this story.

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