From the Dept. of Mildly Pressing Questions Worth Asking on A Slow Wednesday Afternoon comes this new query: "Why Is This DreamWorks-Reliance Deal Taking So Long?" It features an accompanying clock and everything — 63 Days, 18 Hours, 34 Minutes and counting! — to emphasize the hold-up since Indian conglom Reliance Big Entertainment was reported to be within weeks of saving Steven Spielberg and co. from Paramount. Indeed, what is taking so long, and why do so many sources supposedly in the know keep jumping the gun?The timekeeper cites three news sources in as many weeks that have noted that the $500 million Reliance/DreamWorks deal is "a week" away from closing. The Wall Street Journal was a little more vague when breaking the story last June, reporting only that the parties were "close" to a deal. A fun theory floated at the time suggested outgoing 'Works partner David Geffen fed the story to the Journal to entice a bid from Rupert Murdoch himself, whose 20th Century Fox is on the short (if unlikely) list of potential DreamWorks distributors:

"This is what [Geffen] does really well," a studio veteran said after details of DreamWorks' new deal fanned across the film industry like a Malibu fire. On close inspection, the source explained, those details are not only weeks away from being worked into a contract, but out there in a way to stir up interest from interlopers. Even the scoop by which the deal-in-progress became public — page one, above the fold, in The Wall Street Journal — appeared orchestrated.

Our own DreamWorks digging unearthed little new news, and our Magic 8-Ball isn't much help either, with the inquiry, "Will Steven Spielberg be a free man?" first turning up the response, "Ask again later," followed by, "Outlook good." Whatever — if it's good enough for the Journal, then it's good enough for us.