I was gone all day and just saw this in my email. Isn’t Tom Hanks in No. 1 position, given his relationship with DreamWorks, Fox, and he’s the Jimmy Stewart Of Hollywood? An insider tells me, “This literally all happened last week, so no discussions of casting yet. But it’s expected that’s who Spielberg will approach first. But he could go younger.”

Los Angeles, CA (August 2, 2009) — Steven Spielberg will direct as his next film a contemporary adaptation of Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize winning play “Harvey,” a co-production between Twentieth Century Fox and DreamWorks Studios.  The announcement was made today by Fox Chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman and DreamWorks partners Stacey Snider and Spielberg.

“Harvey” is the first screenplay by the best-selling novelist Jonathan Tropper.

The film will be produced by Spielberg and Don Gregory, with Elizabeth Gabler and Carla Hacken overseeing the project for Fox 2000, which acquired the rights to the original play in 2008.

“I am very happy to be working again with my friend Tom Rothman who shepherded us through ‘Minority Report,’ and with Elizabeth and Carla, who I’m looking forward to collaborating with,” said Spielberg. “DreamWorks has experienced a creative and profitable relationship with Twentieth Century Fox in the past, and I look forward to renewing that time together.”

“Don Gregory entrusted us with these precious rights, Beth Gabler and Carla Hacken developed an exceptional screenplay and Jim and I had the easy part: Deciding to go first, before anyone else, to a filmmaker who combines the mastery of craft, tone, wit and insight that ‘Harvey’ embodies,” said Rothman. “Steven Spielberg is film’s greatest humanist. And we feel blessed as Elwood himself to be collaborating with him, Stacey, and everyone at DreamWorks.”

“Harvey” is the story of an amiable eccentric, Elwood P. Dowd, and his friendship with a six and a half feet tall invisible rabbit and how this affects every member of his family and his community. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1944, and played on Broadway for 1,775 performances between 1944 and 1949. It later was adapted for the 1950 Universal film that starred Jimmy Stewart and Josephine Hull.

Added Stacey Snider: “This is a story relevant for all times, perhaps more so than ever before. We are so pleased to be able, with Fox, to be bringing this to today’s audiences.”

Casting and pre-production will begin immediately with cameras turning right after the first of the year as a joint venture between the two studios.