Chicago's Rob Marshall a leading contender to direct Memoirs of a Geisha

Openly gay Chicago director Rob Marshall has emerged as the top contender to take the helm of Memoirs of a Geisha, a Columbia Pictures project that was originally set to be filmed by Steven Spielberg. Marshall, who has yet to pick a follow-up to this year's Oscar winner for Best Picture, Chicago, is meeting with studio chairman Amy Pascal about the project Friday. Spielberg will retain a producer role on Geisha, which is based on Arthur Golden's best-selling novel. After he stepped aside as director several years ago, the project attracted interest from the likes of Spike Jonze and queer director Kimberly Peirce.

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