Scott exits actioner after Katrina alters pic's schedule

Helmer Tony Scott has ankled Touchstone Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer thriller “Deja Vu.”

A spokesman for Scott said his decision to leave was strictly the result of logistical and scheduling problems that arose after Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans, the pic’s key location.

Despite Scott’s departure, which became official the same day the pic was originally skedded to begin shooting, Disney and Bruckheimer said they’re solidly behind the project, and star Denzel Washington remains attached, pending approval of a script and director.

A Bruckheimer spokesman said the pic will probably start shooting in mid- to late January to give the new helmer adequate prep time, but it could go sooner if a director signs on quickly. A Disney spokesman said there is no date.

Washington came onboard “Deja Vu” in part because of his enthusiasm for working with Scott, who directed him in “Crimson Tide” and “Man on Fire” (Daily Variety, April 25).

On Tuesday agencies were already assembling lists of helmers who would be acceptable to Bruckheimer and Disney. But one agent admitted that it would be more difficult to find one whom Washington would approve.

Besides pushing back the start and costing the pic Scott’s services, Katrina’s repercussions are almost sure to drive up the “Deja Vu” budget, which was already likely to top $75 million. Pic needs a ferry for a key sequence; that was one reason the production came to New Orleans in the first place. If the new location does not already have a ferry and dock, a ship would have to be brought in and a dock constructed, at considerable expense.

A move out of Louisiana would also mean the loss of the state’s generous tax incentives.

The script was originally set in San Francisco, but a shift back to the Bay Area or to another less tax-friendly location would also add to the pic’s cost.

A Disney spokesman said Tuesday that the studio hopes to announce the site in a few days.

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