The studio spent the holiday weekend trying to convince Crowe, 43, to take the role of a journalist who spearheads a murder investigation involving a politician, according to Variety.
Neither Crowe nor Pitt commented for the story. Crowe's decision on whether he'll take the role is expected early this week, and Variety says he would need to squeeze this picture in before the scheduled March '08 start date of his next movie, Nottingham, about the sheriff who pursued Robin Hood.
The trade paper also reports that Tom Hanks and Johnny Depp might be available, too, given that their two current movies have been postponed.
Possible LawsuitAfter being connected with the project for two years, Pitt, also 43, quit the production last Wednesday, reportedly over disagreements involving the script. Variety said Universal has left open the option of suing Pitt over his exit.
The studio has a precedent in taking legal action against a star; in 2000, it filed – and then settled – a breach-of-contract suit against Mike Myers, over the aborted movie Dieter, notes Variety.
State of Play, which had a start date of Nov. 15, is also set to star Edward Norton, Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and Robin Wright Penn.