Missile crisis story topped NY Times book list

Fox 2000 has acquired screen rights to “One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War.”

Written by Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs, the book was published by Knopf and just hit the New York Times bestseller list.

John Davis is producing through his Fox-based Davis Entertainment.

There already have been several films about the Cuban Missile Crisis, including the 2000 Kevin Costner-starrer “Thirteen Days,” but Davis and Fox 2000 will focus on a nearly forgotten incident during the tense standoff between Americans and Russians.

At the height of those tensions, a U-2 pilot took off from Alaska, lost his bearings and ventured inside the Soviet Union, just as each side was looking for provocation to start a nuclear war.

“Buried in that book is this white-knuckle four-hour flight that frames out the most dangerous moment in the history of the world,” Davis said. “As Fidel Castro was trying to convince Khrushchev to let these missiles fly, this pilot is (initially) unaware he’s flown off course. The Soviets think they’re being attacked and get their bombers up to 50,000 feet. The plane (is about to run) out of gas, and this pilot has to get out of the Soviet Union before his plane drops down to where those Soviet planes are waiting for him.”

Pilot Charles Maultsby, who’d spent 600 days as a POW in Korea, glided the stalled craft to a safe landing on an icy airstrip in Alaska. Davis said the realization by both sides that an accidental incident almost started a nuclear war helped prompt cooler heads to prevail.

Davis produced “Behind Enemy Lines,” the 2001 20th Century Fox drama that was inspired by the six days that Air Force pilot Lt. Scott O’Grady spent hiding after his plane was shot down in Bosnia in 1995.

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