The thought of Jennifer Jason Leigh playing the “thwarted lover” of Ashton Kutcher in David MacKenzie’s Spread was entirely too much to bear, so I’m quite pleased to learn that she’s abandoned the project for “undisclosed reasons” (i.e. “Not since I made love to Billy Baldwin on top of a fire truck…”).  But Leigh’s abrupt departure has left Kutcher and company scrambling for a back-up leading lady; with most of the town booked solid through June, they’ve had to settle for Anne Heche.

Before Heche got a reputation for being massively unstable, she was considered one of the more promising young actresses out there.  I thought she was terrific opposite Catherine Keener in Nicole Holofcener’s Walking and Talking; though there were a few less-than-memorable films to follow, she did turn in an impressive supporting turn in Donnie Brasco.  Then she got caught up in the whole Ellen DeGeneres media circus, prompting everyone to question her as a straight romantic lead.  It was kind of fucked up, but that’s Hollywood.  After Six Days, Seven Nights justifiably bombed, she was pretty much persona non grata.

I’d love to see her put all of that baggage behind her and get back to acting, which I guess she’s been doing on the ABC show Men in Trees.  Pretending to be hung up over Ashton Kutcher would be a tall order for Vanessa Redgrave, so this should be a telling test of her whatever talent she’s got left.  Spread has been shooting in and around Los Angeles for at least a week.