Che: According to Variety, Steven Soderbergh will replace Terrence Malick as the director of "Che," the film about Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara that will star Benicio Del Toro.

Bill Pohlad's River Road is the film's principal financier; because of that company's deal with Focus Features, Focus is in early talks to distribute.

Soderbergh has committed to begin production in South America in August 2005, and he will supervise the writing of a new script.

The story of Che, a handsome and charismatic physician killed while still a young man, has attracted attention from many filmmakers over the years.

The helming change resulted after Malick abruptly dropped his plan to shoot "Che" this summer and instead committed to direct a film he'd been developing simultaneously, Colin Farrell starrer "The New World," for New Line.

Malick got the directing job only after Soderbergh stepped back into a producing role because his commitment to the sequel "Ocean's Twelve" left him unavailable for a 2004 start date. Soderbergh begins shooting the "Ocean's Eleven" sequel next week.

Brian B.