Columbia in talks with George to direct

Columbia Pictures is in negotiations with Terry George to direct “Edwin A. Salt,” a Kurt Wimmer-scripted drama that is being developed as a star vehicle for Tom Cruise.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Sunil Perkash are producing.

Col’s hope is for Cruise to play the title character, a CIA officer who is fingered by a defector as a Russian sleeper spy. Salt must elude capture by his superiors and sets out to reunite with his family and prove his innocence.

Cruise has been busy this year making the Robert Redford-directed “Lions for Lambs” and the Bryan Singer-directed “Valkyrie” for United Artists after he and partner Paula Wagner revived the shingle. But he has been eyeing several other projects for possible pre-strike films. Despite the recent Sturm und Drang in Germany over “Valkyrie,” one other possibility is a remake of the Doris Dorrie-directed German comedy “Men,” which has director Todd Phillips attached at Warner Bros.

Cruise has been intrigued for months by “Edwin A. Salt,” and the studio has been engaged in finding the right director. George, who last directed “Hotel Rwanda,” just finished “Reservation Road,” a Focus Features drama that stars Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino.

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