couple of days ago Brad Pitt dropped out of State of Play, the movie that was to reteam him with Fight Club buddy Edward Norton. Based on a British miniseries, State of Play is about an investigative journalist (the character Pitt was to play) who is investigating a killing that leads to a fast rising politician, played by Norton.

Brad Pitt seemed sort of ill-suited to play an investigative journalist, but the replacement Universal wants – Tusslin’ Russell Crowe – also doesn’t bring to mind the ink-stained fourth estate. Unless he’s punching members of it. The negotiations are going on at a breakneck pace right now, and they could determine whether or not Universal sues the shit out of Brad Pitt.

There’s a lot of back and forth on whether or not Pitt signed a play-or-pay deal with the studio, and what it means to back out of one in a situation where the strike is keeping the studio from rewriting a script Pitt isn’t happy with. According to Variety, Pitt liked Matthew Carnahan’s original draft but the studio brought on other writers; when the strike hit Carnahan was back on the film (I think. This whole saga is a little confusing. For one thing, I originally thought that Pitt was the one who wanted Tony Gilroy brought in to rewrite Carnahan’s work. Turns out I was wrong), but the script that was in hand still didn’t make Pitt happy.

If Universal can get Crowe, they might not bother suing Pitt, since the movie can go ahead (it has to get started by the end of the week or many of the other actors will be forced to drop out due to conflicting schedules), and they don’t want to be antagonizing a big movie star who can drop out of more of their projects in the future.