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Spielberg on Lincoln’s ticket

Tony Kushner revising DreamWorks script

Steven Spielberg has made it very clear — he’s not giving up on Lincoln.

For several years, Spielberg has been trying to launch his Lincoln opus, but his project was postponed recently by budget and location problems.

Now, Robert Redford has moved into the picture, announcing his own Lincoln project, “The Conspirator,” which will start shooting next month with independent financing and a cast headed by James McAvoy and Robin Wright Penn (Daily Variety, Sept. 14).

Spielberg tells me, “We are very happy that Redford will be doing this Lincoln movie. It is completely different from what our DreamWorks Lincoln movie will be, and we believe that it will add to the commercial potential of our film. Lincoln as a subject is inexhaustible.”

Spielberg is presently focusing on his “reimagining” of “Harvey,” with Robert Downey Jr. possibly playing the man who sees an invisible rabbit.

Meanwhile, Redford’s film will mark his first directing gig since the disastrous “Lions for Lambs,” which helped sink United Artists’ comeback in 2007. The project will mark Redford’s return to a political topic — this one’s historical, to be sure.

Redford’s movie focuses on a young woman charged with conspiring to kill Lincoln. It’s being funded by a company headed by Joe Ricketts, who professes to be a history buff.

Spielberg’s Lincoln yarn reportedly was to focus on the president’s anguish over the length and toll of the Civil War. The script is being revised by Tony Kushner.

While Spielberg’s project will be a DreamWorks production, Redford, long a champion of indie filmmaking, seems bent on remaining outside the studio system. United Artists, which distributed his last film, has gone silent lately.

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