from several sources indicate that the director who first made a name
for himself with 1989's sex, lies, and videotape, a Palme d'Or winner
at Cannes, and the star beloved by millions as Indiana Jones and Han
Solo will finally join forces for Traffic. Soderbergh's got indie
cred; Ford, who recently signed with an acting agency (UTA) for the
first time in his career, wants some.
The pairing has been rumored for several weeks;
now it looks like a deal is finally in place. Ford will play the largest
role in what looks to be a sprawling ensemble, that of a tough-minded
federal judge recruited to become U.S. drug czar, whose politics are
compromised when his teenage daughter morphs into a smack junkie.
Ford has reportedly agreed to accept a back-end
deal in lieu of his eight-figure asking price, which had been a sticking
point in negotiations.
Is it a match made in heaven? After a bit of a winding road, it's
going to be a match made at 20th Century Fox. Soderbergh has been
trying to make Traffic, based on the BBC miniseries Traffik, for over
a year. He initially had preproduction deals cooking at Fox 2000,
but the studio put the project in turnaround late last fall, expressing
concerns about its dark tone.
That freed Soderbergh to seek financing and distribution elsewhere,
and Variety says a deal was nearly in place at MGM last month when
Fox waffled. The prospect of having a breakout vehicle for the newly
independent-minded Ford, who first gave Traffic a sniff shortly after
attaching himself to UTA, was too juicy to pass up.
Frustrated with the pace of the project's coming
together, Ford reportedly almost bailed last week. At issue, among
other things, was his standard $20 million price tag. According to
Entertainment Weekly, Fox wanted the film budgeted at under $30 million.
Unwilling to let Rome burn while Fox fiddled, Soderbergh had been
financing preproduction out of his own pocket.
With Ford finally aboard, and red-hot Catherine Zeta-Jones also attached
to star, shooting has been slated to begin April 2.