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Steven Soderbergh leaves “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

Steven Soderbergh leaves “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” (photo)

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As he’s repeatedly reminded us, Steven Soderbergh is inching closer and closer to the end of his career as a director. We’d been told that he planned to retire after four more movies: the action-thriller “Haywire” (opening January 20), a Channing Tatum male stripper movie called “Magic Mike,” the big-screen adaptation of the cult television series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” and a biopic about Liberace with Michael Douglas. Now it looks like one of those four movies isn’t even going to happen.

The Playlist reports that Soderbergh has decided not to direct “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” after he and the studio, Warner Brothers, “could not come to an agreement over casting and budgets”:

“With the studio already hemming and hawing over casting options, this week they delivered a low $60 million dollar budget proposal for what is supposed to be the first in a tentpole franchise threequel. Soderbergh felt the figure wasn’t enough for a ’60s set period spy film that’s set on four continents, and with a March date looming, he could no longer wait for the studio to refine numbers or set cast, officially pulling out of the project.”

The first problem for “U.N.C.L.E.” came months ago, when Soderbergh’s original star, George Clooney, was forced to leave the film due to an injury. According to The Playlist, Soderbergh and Warner Brothers were never able to settle on a suitable replacement. The director liked Michael Fassbender or Joel Kinnaman (star of AMC’s “The Killing”), then Johnny Depp flirted with the project, then more names were floated included Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper. But apparently no one was really happy, and now audiences aren’t going to be happy either, because they’re not going to get to see Soderbergh’s “Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

I was really curious to see what Soderbergh was going to do with this material. Earlier this fall, he told Film Comment that he’d applied the lessons he learned editing “Contagion” to writing the “U.N.C.L.E.” screenplay with Scott Z. Burns. Working on pacing and “collapsing” action, as the director put it, they’d pared down the script to a scant 98 pages. It sounds like it would have been an unusually lean and economical blockbuster; of course, unusual is kind of par for the course when it comes to Soderbergh.

Sadly, it’s not going to happen. Now the biggest question is: will Soderbergh stick with his original plan of those four movies and then early retirement, or will he sneak another movie or two in to take the place of “U.N.C.L.E.”? The Playlist says nothing has been settled yet but notes that the filmmaker began “looking at potential scripts” once he realized “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” was falling apart. As a devout Soderberghologist, I sincerely hope he finds one he likes.

Were you looking forward to Soderbergh’s “Man From U.N.C.L.E.?” Tell us on the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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