CIA tale's up in Smoke
George Clooney and his Smoke House partner Grant Heslov will co-write a dramedy for Warner Bros. Pictures detailing how the CIA, with help from Hollywood, used a fake movie project to smuggle a handful of Americans out of Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis.Warners has snapped up the film rights to Joshuah Bearman’s Wired magazine article on the real-life intelligence tale and set it up with Smoke House to produce. As with any Smoke House project, “Escape From Tehran” is a potential directing and starring vehicle for Clooney. Project is the first Heslov and Clooney have penned together since 2005’s “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Bearman’s article in the current issue of Wired centers around CIA operative Tony Mendez, a master of disguise who was put in charge of rescuing six Americans hiding out in Tehran. He came up with the idea of using a bogus movie and contacted Hollywood makeup artist John Chambers. Chambers and Bob Sidell, also a makeup artist, launched Studio Six Prods. (an allusion to the six Americans awaiting rescue) and announced their first movie project, to be shot in Iran. Both Variety and the Hollywood Reporter were duped into writing news stories on the film after Studio Six took out trade ads. Mendez went to Tehran in January 1980 and told the Americans to pretend they were Canadians on a scouting trip for a big-budget Hollywood epic. The ruse worked. Smokehouse VP Nina Wolarsky brought in “Escape.” David Klawans (“Nacho Libre”) is attached to produce. UTA repped the magazine article. Heslov and Clooney launched the Warners-based Smoke House last year after Clooney parted ways with former partner Steven Soderbergh. Clooney is currently directing and starring in the 1920s sports pic “Leatherheads,” which Smoke House is producing for Universal.