Game Over for State of Play?
Brad Pitt has dropped out of Universal's film "State of Play," reports Variety. The studio contends that he had a pay-or-play deal, and is reserving the right to sue him if they can't get the picture recast. Pitt's people say he didn't have a pay-or-play deal.
Unclear from the story is whether there is written contract. If not, then we're in the treacherous territory of oral agreements. In most cases, the law doesn't require contracts to be in writing or to be signed. Thus, when emails and oral statements go back and forth, it can be hard to tell when a deal has actually been reached or not.
Pitt's reps say he hasn't approved the script (big stars often have approval rights). Revision of the script is, of course, impossible during the writers strike (at least if a WGA writer is to be used).
A pay-or-play deal, for non-Hollywood readers, is a Hollywood construct that requires an actor or director to do the movie if the studio wants him to, and requires the studio to pay him regardless of whether they decide to use him or not. A-level talent won't agree to do a movie without the deal being pay-or-play.