J.J. Abrams, Tom Cruise will co-produce a fourth Mission: Impossible for 2011

Before Star Trek made director J.J. Abrams the toast of Hollywood, he was a tyro filmmaker who had directed only one movie: Mission: Impossible III, the third installment in a fading spy franchise based on a long-forgotten TV show, starring a man who became better known for jumping on Oprah's couch than for his role as spymaster Ethan Hunt.

How things have changed. Now comes news, from Variety, that Mission: Impossible IV is taking shape at Paramount, Abrams' Star Trek studio home—and the studio that famously showed star Tom Cruise the door not long ago.

The news is that Cruise and Abrams have agreed to co-produce the sequel, which is aimed at a 2011 release.

Here's what Variety says:

The return of Cruise to Par itself is surprising in view of the circumstances surrounding his departure in August 2006. Apparently irked by the heft of Cruise's deal, among other issues, Viacom chief Sumner Redstone abruptly terminated the 14-year relationship between the star and the studio. Cruise's then-CAA agent, Rick Nicita, termed Redstone's decision "shockingly offensive and graceless."

The rift led to Cruise becoming the chief of United Artists and taking a more active role in production decisions. Redstone, meanwhile, has sought to heal the relationship. At a recent appearance, he described the star as "a great actor and a good friend."

It's not really clear to us how Abrams will deliver a fourth Mission: Impossible movie by 2011, given his commitment to direct a second Trek movie. Cruise also has commitments. We'll see ...

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