Michael Arrington's CrunchPad has never had a particularly firm basis in reality, and although we'd been promised that the inexpensive browser-based tablet would be launching soon, the sky's come crashing down: Mike says Fusion Garage, the company he hired to build the CrunchPad, has reneged on their deal, and that he's about to file "multiple lawsuits." What happened? Well, it's not exactly clear: according to Mike, the CrunchPad was ready to be launched on November 20, but on November 17 Fusion Garage decided to cut TechCrunch out of the deal and sell it directly. Oh, it's a sad tale, especially since Arrington claims a wide variety of industry heavyweights were lined up to support his tablet -- including development assistance from Intel complete with sweetheart pricing on Atom CPUs, a "major multi-billion dollar retailer" who offered to sell it at "zero margin," and even venture capital firms "waiting to invest in the company." Making matters worse, Mike's no longer buds with Fusion Garage CEO Chandra Rathakrishnan, who he thought he'd be friends with "for the rest of our lives." Tear. Now, we're not sure we've heard the last of the CrunchPad -- if anything, Michael Arrington is irrepressible -- but we can't say we're surprised the first chapter has ended in such fantastic fashion. We're assuming several major Hollywood studios are already lining up to buy the rights, and we've heard unconfirmed reports that George Clooney has signed on to star for free because he believes in the project so deeply.

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The CrunchPad disappears in a puff of vapor