It's been interesting this afternoon watching the way people jumped on the story about Megan Fox no longer appearing in "Transformers 3."  One thing's clear:  there are a lot of people who hate her and want to believe the absolute worst about her.  No... more than that.  They want to celebrate it.  The schadenfreude is sort of amazing to observe.

It also appears to be misplaced.

Sources close to the production tell HitFix Megan Fox was not written out of "Transformers 3," nor was it Michael Bay's decision to drop her from the film.  She left the picture.  Late this afternoon, her publicist released a statement exclusively to People.com stating that it was Fox's choice, but people haven't run that part of the story.  They just keep writing that she was canned.

Stories like this are always tough to parse from the outside.  Everyone wants to be the party in control, the one who made the choice.  And in this case, it makes a great story to blame Fox's brash outspoken manner in interviews on her suddenly not appearing in this franchise.  But I think it's important to at least try to figure out what happened, since we're talking about people's professional lives here.  Futures are made and broken based on the way people allegedly behave on film sets.

What we don't know at this point is why Fox walked away.  I hear it's not a money issue, but no alternative was offered up instead.  She and Michael Bay have always had a contentious relationship in public, and the rush for Bay to claim responsibility for her leaving the film makes it seem like things must have blown up between them again.  Still, that's not confirmed, and I'd like to give Bay the same benefit of the doubt that I'm giving Fox.

What we do know is that she's got a film in the can that may be making the festival rounds this fall called "Passion Play," which pits her against Mickey Rourke, a baptism by fire for any performer.  And, of course, she's the female lead in "Jonah Hex" this summer, which is facing fairly mixed buzz after a series of test screenings.  I can't see how "Transformers 3" would mean much of anything to her as a performer, one way or another.  The actors in those films are basically just placeholders to hold some space in front of whatever CGI fireworks Bay whips up this time around.  If they do end up hiring Gemma Arterton or some other cutie du jour for the film, she'll make absolutely no difference to the end result.  It'll just be a different hottie going through the same motions.  Run.  Dodge.  Scream.  React.

If we are able to learn more details of what led to Fox's departure from the film, we'll follow up.  But for now, this all smells like spin to us.

"Transformers 3" will be in theaters July 1, 2011.

For a list of potential candidates to replace Fox, click here.

 

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You can e-mail me at drew@hitfix.com or follow me on Twitter, where I'm DrewAtHitFix.