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Rudin retreats from Daldry’s ‘Reader’

Producer clashes with Harvey Weinstein

After a long and bruising battle with Harvey Weinstein over Stephen Daldry‘s “The Reader,” producer Scott Rudin left the arena, exiting the pic last week and taking his name off the film.

The two larger-than-life New York moguls previously clashed over Daldry’s 2002 “The Hours,” also written by David Hare, and then stirred things up with conflicting intentions for the completion and release of “The Reader.”

Rudin, who won an Oscar for last year’s “No Country for Old Men,” wanted to push the World War II romance starring Kate Winslet back to 2009, because he didn’t want to mount an additional Oscar campaign along with those for “Doubt” and “Revolutionary Road,” which also stars Winslet.

Rudin fought hard to get more post-production time and support for the director, who is busy prepping the Nov. 13 opening of the musical “Billy Elliot” on Broadway.

When Weinstein insisted on holding Daldry to his promise to release the movie in 2008 if it tested well enough in previews, Rudin and Daldry finally agreed to deliver the film for a Dec. 12 release.

The battle over getting Daldry more weeks of editing time and moving scoring sessions to New York grew so intense that both sides hired top-notch legal counsel, who sent a series of high-pitched letters that were leaked to the press, along with Daldry’s heartfelt pleas to Weinstein for more editing time. Both sides invoked the purported intentions of the film’s late producers, Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, to further their cause.

It’s unclear as yet what impact Rudin’s withdrawal will have on the film’s completion and marketing, as Rudin tends to be something of a micromanager. He has expressed concern about being able to handle the opening of three films at year-end.

Given the two men’s history there may be another chapter in “The Reader’s” saga.