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In what could be the biggest public re-casting controversy since Terrence Howard v. Marvel Studios, the folks at Summit Entertainment have engaged in an all-out publicity war with Rachelle Lefevre, the actress who was recently dropped from the cast of their upcoming film The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard. It is a story that we reported earlier today, and at the time it seemed relatively harmless. That is, until the sparks began to fly.

This evening, Lefevre issued the following statement to Access Hollywood saying she was as stunned as the fans are:

“I was stunned by Summit’s decision to recast the role of Victoria for ‘Eclipse.’ I was fully committed to the ‘Twilight’ saga, and to the portrayal of Victoria. I turned down several other film opportunities and, in accordance with my contractual rights, accepted only roles that would involve very short shooting schedules. My commitment to ‘Barney’s Version’ is only ten days. Summit picked up my option for ‘Eclipse.’ Although the production schedule for ‘Eclipse’ is over three months long, Summit said they had a conflict during those ten days and would not accommodate me. Given the length of filming for ‘Eclipse,’ never did I fathom I would lose the role over a 10 day overlap. I was happy with my contract with Summit and was fully prepared to continue to honor it. Summit chose simply to recast the part. I am greatly saddened that I will not get to complete my portrayal of Victoria for the ‘Twilight’ audience. This is a story, a theatrical journey and a character that I truly love and about which I am very passionate. I will be forever grateful to the fan support and loyalty I’ve received since being cast for this role, and I am hurt deeply by Summit’s surprising decision to move on without me. I wish the cast and crew of ‘Eclipse’ only the very best.”

Summit Entertainment responded hours later with the following public statement:

We at Summit Entertainment are disappointed by Rachelle Lefevre’s recent comments which attempt to make her career choices the fault of the Studio. Her decision to discuss her version of the scheduling challenges publicly has forced the Studio to set the record straight and correct the facts.

- Ms. Lefevre’s representatives were advised as early as April that THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE was expected to start shooting in early August.

- If Ms. Lefevre was, as she describes “passionate,” about being part of THE TWILIGHT SAGA, we feel that she and her representatives would have included us in her decision to work on another film that would conflict with the shooting schedule of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE.

- It was not until July 20th that Summit was first informed of Ms. Lefevre’s commitment to BARNEY’S VERSION, a commitment we have since been advised she accepted in early June. Summit had acted in good faith that she would be available to fulfill her obligations both in terms of rehearsals and shooting availability for THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE. We feel that her choice to withhold her scheduling conflict information from us can be viewed as a lack of cooperative spirit which affected the entire production.

- Furthermore Ms. Lefevre took a role in the other film that places her in Europe during the required rehearsal time, and at least ten days of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE’s principal photography. This period is essential for both rehearsal time with the cast, and for filming at key locations that are only available during the initial part of production.

- Contrary to Ms. Lefevre’s statement, it is simply untrue that the Studio dismissed her over a ten day overlap. It is not about a ten day overlap, but instead about the fact that THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE is an ensemble production that has to accommodate the schedules of numerous actors while respecting the established creative vision of the filmmaker and most importantly the story.

The fact remains that Ms. Lefevre’s commitment to the other project – which she chose to withhold from Summit until the last possible moment – makes her unfortunately unavailable to perform the role of Victoria in THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE.

As you might expect, it is incredibly rare to see a studio engage in such an open publicity war with a star. Usually, as was the case with the aforementioned Terrence Howard situation, the studio remains silent and moves on with the production of the film. But in this case Summit, which is a fairly young studio whose future is based on the success of the Twilight franchise, has decided to air all of the dirty laundry. If I had to guess why this is the chosen route, it might have something to do with the rabid fanbase around the Twilight franchise, a fanbase that demands answers.

However, if you ask me, this sort of response isn’t one that is necessary — the fans would have eventually gotten over the recasting. They still have their core cast that will make or break their films. But now, we’ve got ourselves a story — an actress scorned, a studio in panic mode. Lets not forget though, that it is still a franchise that will be bankrolling Summit projects for years to come — the fanbase will not wither over a little scandal. So while it’s fun in an inside baseball sort of way, by the time Eclipse hits theaters, fans won’t even remember this little controversy.

What do you think of how both Rachelle Lefevre and Summit Entertainment are handling this situation?


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