On one hand, Stone's not likely to go quietly if he's yanked off (and by the way, as Roger Simon points out, there has indeed been a huge "off with their heads and out of our country" sentiment in GB), which Brad Grey knows could taint the film. On the other hand, Grey clearly doesn't want to misstep right out of the box. On the third hand, it seems so astonishingly tone deaf for Grey to give Stone the film in the first place, given what the red-state reaction is likely to be with Stone at the helm. Predicting what anyone is going to do here is like Johnny Apple telling us that Afghanistan has become a quagmire 48 hours after the Marines landed. In other words, I don't have any idea.
Yet I wouldn't be a bit surprised if we start to hear something about "creative differences" and all that, with Paramount saying that it wanted to go in another direction, thus freeing Stone to do "a pet project that he feels more passionately about," one that they've wanted him to do for a long time--that is, a bribe. I also can't figure out why, if they've got $60 mill to spend on a 9-11 film, that it even GOT TO Stone. That, I think, says more about Hollywood sensibilities than anything else. No other A-list director wanted this? Weird. The only thing I can surmise is that no one wanted to be on record as somehow justifying the war, so to them, Stone's directing is Nixon going to China. They knew they could count on him to bring in the film without it looking the SANDS OF IWO JIMA.
Not that the brain trust at Paramount is asking for my advice, but if I wanted to put an off-beat director on the job after Stone leaves the project, and I didn't want it to look like I was simply giving in to McCarthyite pressure, I'd see if David Lynch would be interested.
As David Skinner recently observed, Lynch doesn't just have depths as a director, he has crystal-clear depths. His talents lend themselves very well to the straight-forward, touching story that Paramount wants to tell. And he's unconventional enough that it won't look like the studio was simply selling out to popular demand. No one in the arts community could pick a fight with the decision to hire Lynch.
P.S.: Lest you think I'm an anti-Stone partisan, I would argue that while his work is uneven, Any Given Sunday is the best sports movie ever made.
How's them for fightin' words?