Bard not to be for Savoy, U

Savoy Pictures Entertainment and Universal Pictures have indefinitely shelved the $ 20 million-plus production of “Shakespeare in Love” after not being able to recast the male lead to play opposite Julia Roberts.

As reported, Daniel Day-Lewis–Roberts’ choice to portray the Bard–decided instead to star in Universal’s “The Gerry Conlon Story” for his “My Left Foot” director Jim Sheridan (Daily Variety, Oct. 6).

Roberts had long been attached to the Elizabethan love story, with hopes of it being her next picture, though her deal was never made. The actress just returned from London, where dozens of British actors read for the role.

Roberts’ agent, ICM’s Elaine Goldsmith, said yesterday, “I think the frustration comes with everyone wanting to go forward with this project and not being able to find the right person once Daniel Day-Lewis passed.”

Goldsmith added, “This is a very good script, originally written by Marc Norman with a second draft by Tom Stoppard, that everyone loved, but the problem was finding a Shakespeare and, due to dates not working out, neither (producer) Ed Zwick nor Julia have found the actor for that role.”

As for what the actress plans to do next, Goldsmith said, “We have several projects that she’s been offered and if one of them is right, I’m sure she’ll do it.”

While Roberts is already committed to star in Alan Pakula’s adaptation of John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief” for Warner Bros., a script is still being written so no start date is set.

One of the projects reportedly being offered Roberts is Largo’s “Mrs. California,” which Jonathan Lynn is set to direct from a script by Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott about two housewives in the ’50s. Melanie Griffith and Geena Davis had originally been attached.

Sources also indicate that Goldsmith has received several calls from Paramount for the actress to star opposite Tom Cruise in Sydney Pollack’s “The Firm.”

Goldsmith declined to comment on “Mrs. California,” which Roberts reportedly has not yet read, and “The Firm.”

“Shakespeare,” which was being jointly financed by Savoy (as domestic distributor) and Universal (retaining foreign rights) was supposed to go before the cameras at London’s Pinewood Studios in the next six weeks.

It was reported in yesterday’s London newspapers that the film’s producer, Terry Clegg, told the 200-strong crew at Pinewood that the $ 20 million-to-$ 25 million production was being pulled.

Clegg was reported in a London paper as confirming that the production collapsed because of “our failure to find an acceptable male star” and that “the financing of the movie was structured around Julia and a suitable male lead.’ ‘

Savoy and U officials could not be reached yesterday for comment.

It’s conceivable that the project could get back on track at some point–with or without Roberts –but sources are skeptical.

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