NEW YORK — In the first move toward realizing a sequel to “True Lies,” director James Cameron and Fox are negotiating with Jeffrey Eastin to write the first draft of the script.

Cameron and “Lies” star Arnold Schwarzenegger began discussing the possibility when the director brought both Schwarzenegger and “Lies” co-star Tom Arnold to visit the set of “Titanic” (Daily Variety, April 21, 1997). Even then, Cameron’s Lightstorm banner was open about the helmer’s hopes to reteam Schwarzenegger, Arnold and Jamie Lee Curtis in a sequel.

Busy slate

Since “Titanic,” Cameron has been busy co-creating a TV series and a miniseries at Fox, as well as plotting an IMAX film. “True Lies,” one of the first pics to crack the $100 million budget mark, has always been viewed as a viable option for his first post-“Titanic” feature. The followup will likely be equally ambitious, and the parties are proceeding carefully.

The same is true for Columbia’s sequel to “Men in Black,” with Amblin and Columbia having just hired scribe Robert Gordon to hatch a sequel (even though it’s unclear whether any of the original players will be back). No talent deals are set on “True Lies” either, though all parties are said to be receptive to working together again.

The UTA-repped Eastin created and will be exec producer of “Shasta McNasty,” a new UPN series that will debut this fall. Dennis Dugan (“Big Daddy”) directed the pilot, and Neal Moritz’s Original Films is producing.

Eastin’s script, “Inconvenienced,” was turned into a feature by Trimark starring Jamie Foxx and Jake Busey. Eastin also wrote “Love Crazy,” a romantic comedy that Warner Bros. is developing in hopes of landing a big comic star. Eastin also wrote the Fox 2000 comedy “Freelancer.”

The scribe will draft a script under the supervision of Cameron, sources said, after the director canvassed many writers for possible takes for the sequel.