EXCLUSIVE: Channing Tatum has jumped to the top of the list for the lead of Sony Pictures’s 21 Jump Street. I’m told that Tatum will soon be in negotiations to star alongside Jonah Hill. Production will begin in the spring. Based on the 1987 Stephen J. Cannell series that was one of the Fox Network’s early successes and launched Johnny Depp, the movie was scripted by Michael Bacall based on a story he hatched with Hill. The film will be directed by Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs helmers Phil Lord and Chris Miller. I’m told that the studio has met with a bunch of potential leading men and that Tatum and Hill matched up well. Both look youthful, which helps since the film is about undercover officers who infiltrate schools to fight crime. UTA-repped Tatum’s creating some pre-release buzz for his comic turn as the other man in the Ron Howard-directed The Dilemma, which Universal released on January 14. He’ll follow in a dramatic turn as a Roman soldier trying to reclaim his family honor in the Kevin Macdonald-directed The Eagle for Focus Features.