Universal Pictures has joined forces with Montecito partners Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock for “The Nature of Evil,” an action-adventure-horror film which will be the next film directed by “The Fast and the Furious” helmer Rob Cohen.

Pollock and Reitman will produce the film, lensed in Turkey and the U.S., with Katherine Knowlton. U exec Holly Bario is shepherding the pic along with production prexy Scott Stuber. Cohen is currently shooting the Vin Diesel-starrer “XXX” for Revolution.

The project’s subject matter’s being held close to the vest, but the aspiration is to be “The Omen” meets “Indiana Jones,” and designed to land an A-list male star.

The deal marks a homecoming of sorts for both Pollock, who ran the studio in the early ’90s, and Reitman, for whom the studio once built an entire building and who directed many pics there, including “Twins,” “Legal Eagles” and “Kindergarten Cop.” When Pollock left the U executive suites, he aligned with Reitman and formed their company at DreamWorks, where they made “Road Trip.”

The Cohen project is based on an idea that was owned by Montecito and had a script from Richard B. Matheson and Richard C. Matheson. They combined it with a script called “The Deceiver,” which was originated by Keith Davidson and rewritten by Cohen and Gemil Everett.

The film will be prepped while Cohen completes “XXX” for an August 2 date, and the deal being made by his WMA reps call for Cohen to direct “The Nature of Evil” while U continues to develop the sequel to “The Fast the Furious” with Cohen and producer Neal Moritz.

HELMER DEALT ‘ACES’: Hot off his Sundance entry “Narc,” writer/director Joe Carnahan has set his next project at Universal and Working Title Films. Called “Smokin’ Aces,” the film is described as an ensemble action comedy dealing with the disappearance of a semi-famous Las Vegas magician. The pic will be produced by Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner and will be supervised by prexy Liza Chasin. “Narc,” which stars Jason Patric and Ray Liotta, was bought for distribution by Lions Gate and created some steam for Carnahan, with his Endeavor and TEG reps taking the preemptive deal from Working Title after Carnahan pitched his idea. It will be the third film for the 30-year old Carnahan, who made his directing debut on “Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane” and has written such scripts as “Pride and Glory” and “Miami,” the latter to be directed by Brett Ratner to direct.

RADAR PLEDGES “ALLEGIANCE”: Radar Pictures and producer David Permut have pledged “Allegiance,” paying mid-six figures for Patrick Lee’s spec script in a preemptive buy. The script, based on a story by Bill Petrowich and Lee, is a fast paced action thriller about a spy leading a double life. Lee last set “Nowhere to Hide” at Warner Bros. with Barry Levinson. Permut Presentations veep Steve Longi will co-produce “Allegiance” with LeMel Humes, with Radar’s Ted Field and Scott Kroopf exec producing. Permut’s now in post on the standup concert pic “Eddie Griffin Live,” and is forging ahead on the Jeff Nathanson-scripted “Providence” at Touchstone and the English language remake of the French film “Kings for a Day,” being written by Harley Peyton (“Bandits”) for DreamWorks.

“JACKSON” IN ACTION: After spending the past four years running the Pamela Anderson series “V.I.P,” JF Lawton is making a movie which will challenge audiences to watch a group of people they usually ignore. “Jackson” is a drama he wrote, which covers a day in the life of two homeless men after they find Andrew Jackson smiling up at them from his place on a $20 bill. The pic features numerous actors playing homeless people, and Lawton has figured out a novel way to make them compelling: What they lack in soap, they’ll make up with opera. “The movie’s meant to be funny and touchingly sad, and you’ll see an old bum on a hill drinking a can of Colt 45 who’ll burst into a classic aria,” said Lawton. “The idea is that you get to know the faces and souls of the very people you normally look away from when they come your way.” Pic stars Barry Primus and Charlie Robinson and will be produced by Lawton’s wife. Lawton, who wrote the blockbusters “Pretty Woman” and “Under Siege,” and co-created “V.I.P.” has no such commercial aspirations for this film, which he financed at $500,000. He’ll take the film on the festival circuit.

MOLINA PACTS PAIR: Alfred Molina is joining the ensemble of “I.D.,” the James Mangold-directed Sony thriller which stars John Cusack and Ray Liotta. He’ll begin shooting March 4 in Los Angeles, and then head directly to Munich to star alongside Joseph Fiennes in “Luther,” the Eric Till-directed biopic of religious reformist Martin Luther. Molina is coming off starring with Salma Hayek in the Julie Taymor-directed “Frida,” and alongside “Plots With A View,” the Nick Horan-directed comedy which stars Christopher Walken, Naomi Watts and Brenda Blethyn. Both pics are from Miramax and might well get their unveilings at Cannes.

CARLYLE TO ICM: “The Full Monty” star Robert Carlyle has signed with ICM, just as he’s coming out in two films, “51st State” opposite Samuel L. Jackson and “To End All Wars,” the pic directed by David Cunningham.

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