headline’s only, what, two years past its expiration date? I’ve also got video of a tranquilized bear bouncing off a trampoline if you’re interested.

Jeffrey Wells broke this story last Wednesday, but I held off filing a reaction on the off-chance he got some bad information. It’s not that I had any reason to doubt him; it’s just that I didn’t want to accept that we’ll be waiting until April to see George Clooney’s Leatherheads.

Citing Clooney’s publicity commitments to Michael Clayton (which have felt kinda non-existent on the online side o’ things), the still shooting Burn After Reading, his recent motorcycle accident (at least he was wearing a helmet!), and the fact that the film has tested so well it might be an unexpected Oscar contender (okay, they didn’t come out and say this), Universal has decided to punt Clooney’s 1920s gridiron comedy into 2008. Right now they’re aiming for April 4, but, as The Hollywood Reporter astutely points out, that’s an extremely crowded playdate. Though the biggest film slated to open that weekend, Nim’s Island, is a kiddie flick, there is a lot of competition for the guy demo (as opposed to the Guy demo): Harold & Kumar 2, the adaptation of Scott Smith’s The Ruins, Scorsese’s also delayed Stones doc Shine a Light, a Djimon Honsou vehicle(!) called Get Some and a Luke Wilson vehicle(!?!?) titled Henry Poole is Here.

Admit it, Universal: you threw a dart on this one, didn’t you?

Or maybe you think the film’s quality and immense, multi-quadrant appeal (it’s also a love triangle also featuring Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski) will chase away most of the competition. I hope that’s the case. The film received some glowing (seemingly non-planty) test screening reviews at AICN last September, with the consensus being that it plays like the Coen Brothers’ version of Cinderella Man. That’s why I wanted this fucker in December.

But here’s the thing: if Oscar voters cool on either Charlie Wilson’s War or American Gangster (which is incredibly unlikely), maybe Leatherheads could get a late December qualifying run and a wide January release (perhaps the Sunday before the Super Bowl). I’m having a really hard time accepting that this isn’t a 2007 release anymore.