In a story from Variety, Steven Spielberg will not be directing Harvey. He had been developing the picture, which would have been his first since DreamWorks split from Paramount.

Spielberg told 20th Century Fox the news this week. The studio had set aside sound-stages on the lot as the production was to commence in early 2010 production. Fox was going to have DreamWorks finance 50% of production via its new funding relationship with Reliance. The film would have been distributed domestically or internationally through its deal with Disney.

The film is a contemporary adaptation of Mary Chase's Pulitzer Prize winning play. Harvey is the story of an amiable eccentric, Elwood P. Dowd, and his friendship with a six and a half feet tall invisible rabbit and how this affects every member of his family and his community. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944, and played on Broadway for 1,775 performances between 1944 and 1949. It later was adapted for the 1950 Universal film that starred Jimmy Stewart and Josephine Hull.

Spielberg wanted Tom Hanks to star in the film, but Hanks wasn't interested. Spielberg and Fox then turned to Robert Downey Jr. He didn't commit to the role, however he did make suggestions on rewrites of Jonathan Tropper's script. Downey and Spielberg never really came together on the script, and the director finally bailed out.

Fox 2000 is going to continue working the project and they may even come back to Spielberg and Downey.

Evan Jacobs