Hollywood is abuzz about the super-secret table read Steven Spielberg held on Wednesday for an undisclosed project with some of the town’s top talent.
It is unknown who participated at this time, as everyone involved was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. And they’re remaining mum lest they lose a chance to work with the legendary filmmaker. However, Variety has learned the project is an untitled biopic of conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein. Coincidentally, Bernstein wrote the music for “West Side Story,” which Spielberg is also considering taking on as a follow-up after “Indiana Jones 5.”
It is also unknown who wrote this specific Bernstein script, though sources say it is not the same one that Josh Singer (“Spotlight”) currently has set up at Paramount.
Insiders say that no matter how well the table read went, “Indiana Jones 5” will be Spielberg’s next film. His follow-up to the next Indy is still undecided. This table read was viewed as a third option, as the director is also weighing the “West Side Story” remake.
While Amblin had no comment, a source close to Spielberg said he frequently does read-throughs, and it doesn’t mean the director is committing to anything.
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In recent weeks, it has been reported that with post-production on his upcoming film “Ready Player One” nearly finished, Spielberg would focus on not just one directing job, but his next two gigs for 2019. The plan was always to shoot the next installment in the “Indiana Jones” franchise at the beginning of 2019 with star Harrison Ford returning in the title role as the fedora-wearing archaeologist. He initially intended to follow that up with a remake of Bernstein’s classic “West Side Story.”
As previously reported, Spielberg had already hired a “West Side Story” casting director to search for actors of Puerto Rican descent. However, in recent weeks Spielberg began to move off the idea of committing to the “West Side Story” remake as being his next film after “Indiana Jones 5,” given this recent table read.
Sources say this new undisclosed project does not suggest Spielberg is abandoning “West Side Story,” and that the director has done this kind of shuffling several times before when deciding what film he’ll tackle next. At various points, Spielberg’s name has been linked to a remake of “Harvey” and a drama about the Chicago 7 trial, and “Lincoln” went through several incarnations before ultimately being made with Daniel Day-Lewis.
He took a similar route when choosing what to direct next after “Ready Player One,” having at first committed to helm “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara” starring Mark Rylance and Oscar Isaac. When he was unable to find the young actor to play the title character, Spielberg decided to direct “The Post,” which ended up landing an Oscar nomination for best picture.
Whatever he decides to direct after “Indiana Jones 5,” it is very clear that Spielberg will not shoot another film until the beginning of 2019. He’ll take the rest of 2018 to prep both films.
“Ready Player One” is expected to premiere at this year’s SXSW festival.