Clooney gives ‘West’ a rest

Move attributed to friction between actor, director Sonnenfeld

George Clooney has gone south on “Wild Wild West,” the Warner Bros. feature adaptation of the television series about Secret Service agents working undercover in the Old West, according to sources, who attributed the move to differences between the actor and director Barry Sonnenfeld.

Clooney (“Batman and Robin,” “The Peacemaker”) had been set to co-star with Will Smith (“Men in Black”), playing master of disguise Artemus Gordon to Smith’s James T. West.

Clooney’s exit from the project is not completely surprising. In the original TV series, Gordon was West’s sidekick and clearly the secondary character. Because Clooney and Smith are leading men, sources suggested the pairing of the actors did not match the relationship of the film’s partners.

The original series ran on CBS from 1965-1970, and starred Ross Martin as Gordon, and Robert Conrad as West.

Warners had no comment.

The film is being produced by Pe-ters Entertainment.

Sources said the movie is still on track for its intended April 1 start date. Smith remains on the project.

The original “West” script was written by Steve Wilson and Brent Maddock. Peter Seaman and Jeffrey Price were hired to rewrite.

Clooney’s chiseled features recently graced the cover of People magazine, which named him 1997’s “sexiest man alive.”

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