Brad Pitt Leaves The Lost City of Z in Limbo

Brad Pitt is not only in an elite class of name brand actors; he may be the only star in the galaxy to have had his name turned into a verb. To be "Pitted" means to have been hired to work a glossy big budget film, only to have the rug pulled out when Pitt loses interest and abandons the production at the altar, robbing it of its "go" status. Pitt fortified his fickle reputation, when he fled "The Lost City of Z," a big screen adaptation of New Yorker writer, David Grann's much-praised non-fiction account of  Col. Percy Fawcett's quixotic 1925 expedition into the Amazon in search of El Dorado, the mythic kingdom, reputed to be lousy with gold.  Vulture's Claude Brodesser-Akner reports that Pitt pulled up stakes when negotiations broke down over director James Gray's salary. Gray hasn't made a movie since 2008's Two Lovers, a seriously underrated emotionally charged outer-boroughs romance.  (Lovers became collateral damage to the media pileup that happened after its star, Joaquin Phoenix, decided to use the movie's publicity campaign to announce his fake retirement from Hollywood.)

Because of Lost City's epic scope — elaborate gilded sets in jungle-like terrain, international locations, and action set-pieces — it's not the kind of film likely to be shot on the cheap. That means it's unlikely to be green-lit without another actor of Pitt's caliber. Problem is, at this point, the list of over-thirty actors who can open a big budget historic adventure flick without the help of 3-D magic has dwindled down to just a few good men: Clooney, Damon, DiCaprio. Russell Crowe doesn't seem to have the firepower he used to command in his post-"Gladiator" heyday. And while Clive Owen would be captivating in the role, he has yet to rack up a blockbuster credit.

In one other piece of "Z" news, Pitt is still attached to "World War Z," based on the Zombie sensation penned by Max Brooks and to be directed by Marc Forster ("Monster's Ball"; "Finding Neverland").

Question for readers: Who would be your dream casting choice to play the intrepid Colonel Fawcett? Who would you choose if you were a studio chief and had to balance art and commerce?