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Hugh Jackman off ‘Cleo’ wishlist

Exit may be attributed to scheduling conflicts

Hugh Jackman has removed himself from discussions to star with Catherine Zeta-Jones in “Cleo,” a 3-D live action musical which Steven Soderbergh will direct as his next project.

No deal had been signed as the ambitious $30 million project is completing its financing, but Soderbergh asked his “Traffic” star Zeta-Jones to play Cleopatra and wanted new Oscar host Jackman to play her lover, the Roman general Marc Antony (Daily Variety, October 24, 2008).

Discussions are reportedly in the works for the role of Julius Caesar to be played by Ray Winstone, the “Beowulf” star who just completed shooting the Martin Campbell-directed “Edge of Darkness” with Mel Gibson.

Soderbergh has said he wants to inject the famous historical love story with rock n’ roll songs and a style akin to an Elvis musical. The music was written by the indie rock band Guided by Voices, and the script is by the group’s former bass player, James Greer, who is also an author.

Jackman’s exit is attributed by insiders to scheduling conflicts, though it is not clear what other project is on his plate.

Jackman, who’s coming off the Baz Luhrmann-directed “Australia,” next hosts the Academy Awards in February, and then reprises the lead in the Gavin Hood-directed “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

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