before Christmas, Entertainment Weekly‘s "Hollywood Insider Blog" floated the possibility that Peter Berg might take the directorial reins on Tom Cruise’s next star vehicle, Edwin A. Salt. Based on a screenplay by CHUD pal Kurt Wimmer, the CIA spy thriller was initially set up for Terry George to direct, but, given the action-heavy tenor of the script (i.e. judging from the early draft I read several years ago), that seemed a tenuous match. When Michael Mann began flirting with the project, I was obviously excited, but he also has a habit of developing two or three films per week. Only the involvement of Cruise suggested that Mann’s participation was at all possible.

Unfortunately, the opportunity to reunite with his Collateral wasn’t a significant enough draw for Mann. But before Edwin A. Salt could go back out on the market as an open directing assignment, Mann’s protege, Peter Berg, received the courtesy of first refusal. Now that Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are running with EW’s week-old story with no additional information, I’m inclined to believe that Berg is officially on board (even though both publications stress that he’s still "in talks"). Or maybe they’re just filling out column space during a slow news week.

Edwin A. Salt is about a CIA operative who gets outed as a Russian sleeper agent with orders to assassinate the President of the United States. Whilst struggling to clear his name (and smoke out the real traitor), Salt wreaks a whole lotta mayhem.

Provided Berg (or someone) signs on to direct, the production is scheduled to begin shooting this June for Columbia Pictures.