Studio sets movie about CIA leak scandal

Warner Bros. is developing a feature on the lives of Valerie Plame and Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the married couple drawn into a D.C. firestorm.

Plame’s status as a CIA agent was revealed by White House officials allegedly out to discredit her husband after he wrote a 2003 New York Times op-ed piece saying that the Bush administration had manipulated intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq.

The film is a co-production between Weed Road’s Akiva Goldsman and Jerry and Janet Zucker of Zucker Productions.

Jez and John Butterworth are writing the screenplay.

WB has secured the life rights of Plame and Wilson. Studio also will use Plame’s memoir, “Fair Game,” if the CIA permits her to publish it. Plame made a reported publishing deal in the $2.5 million range last year, and Simon & Schuster is expected to publish late this year. While it would be ironic for Plame’s story to be illegally leaked by the White House, only to have another government branch deny her the right to tell it herself, the CIA has the latitude to silence Plame.

She left the agency in late 2005 and she and Wilson have filed a civil lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former chief of staff for Cheney who’s currently on trial, defending himself against charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to FBI agents who were investigating the leak of Plame’s identity to journalists.

Jerry and Janet Zucker, who got to know Plame and Wilson because all four are involved in stem cell politics, said that the fate of the book won’t determine the fate of the film.

“Almost everything that we need for the movie is available from print outlets, and obviously we haven’t read the book yet because it hasn’t been approved by the CIA,” Jerry Zucker said. “Valerie has been incredibly careful with what she tells us, it’s almost like she is still working for the CIA. The biggest element of the movie to us is the story of two people who spent their lives in service of their government, and were then betrayed by that government.”

The Butterworth brothers recently completed “Superbad,” a James Brown biopic that Spike Lee will direct for Universal and Imagine.

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