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Director John Singleton is in the homestretch on a deal to direct Universal’s sequel to “The Fast and the Furious,” pairing Paul Walker with “Baby Boy” star-singer Tyrese.

“Baby Boy” helmer Singleton will pick up where “Fast” left off, when cop Brian O’Conner (Walker) let Dominic Torreto (Vin Diesel) get away. In the sequel, that gets him stripped of his badge and disgraced. He is given a chance to redeem himself and regain his badge by going undercover to infiltrate the street racing circuit in Miami.

A script was written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, and the film is expected to shoot in October with Neal Moritz producing.

The directing job became open when the original’s helmer, Rob Cohen, declared he would only return if both of his stars were in place. Diesel dropped out of the sequel last month, and Cohen followed. Tyrese emerged as the new star power earlier this month (Daily Variety, May 16).

The studio is banking both on Walker and the muscle car concept, and the film is a high priority piece of business for Universal. The original cost $38 million and grossed $145 million domestically, proving to be equally strong on video and DVD.

While Singleton broke in directing issue-oriented dramas like “Boyz N the Hood” and “Higher Learning,” the UTA-repped helmer has made a concerted effort to broaden his range. He directed the Samuel Jackson starrer “Shaft” and attached himself to a “Sinbad” project at Columbia (Daily Variety, Dec. 14, 2001) that is being scripted by Tedi Sarafian (“Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”)