Another 'Inside' job

Lee to return, George to pen Uni sequel

A sequel to Spike Lee's "Inside Man" is moving forward at Universal, with Terry George in negotiations to write the screenplay and Lee coming back to direct the Brian Grazer-produced film.

"Inside Man 2," as the project is tentatively called, will pick up on the characters and dynamic but not the story line of the original. The first "Inside Man," which was penned by Russell Gewirtz, centered on a standoff between a bank robber (Clive Owen) and a hostage negotiator (Denzel Washington) at a New York bank.

Lee says he foresees that the new film will continue the relationship between the two main characters, but in a new high- tension situation.

"I want the script to be even better than Russell's, and Russell wrote a really good script," he said.

The news cements long-floating rumors that Universal was looking to reprise the alchemy of indie fave Lee with the studio budget and marketing apparatus of Universal.

The original "Inside Man," also from Universal, scored Lee his biggest opening weekend when it was released in spring 2006 to $29 million and went on to earn more than $175 million worldwide.

Grazer will produce "Inside Man 2" via his Imagine Entertainment banner, with Lee and Daniel Rosenberg executive producing.

Washington and Owen are interested in reteaming for the project, Lee said, speaking from the Toronto International Film Festival.

George ("Hotel Rwanda") is repped by Endeavor. (partialdiff)