Newell goes spying for WB

Film to focus on death of KGB spy Litvinenko

Brit helmer Mike Newell is attached to write and direct an untitled feature about the mysterious death of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko. Project is set at Warner Bros.

Newell, who most recently directed “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” for Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is developing the pic with scriptwriter David Scarpa.

No talent is attached yet to the project, which is said to be in an advanced stage of development.

Project is based on book “The Terminal Spy” by Alan Cowell, then London bureau chief of the New York Times. Film rights for the book repped Madden’s first acquisition when he joined Warner Bros. in January 2007.

Litvinenko’s death remains shrouded in intrigue. The ex-Russian spy, who was poisoned in 2006 with polonium-210, accused then-Russian President Vladimir Putin of being behind his murder as he lay dying in a London hospital bed.

Story became one of the most mysterious and perplexing crimes of the post-Cold War era, triggering an international investigation and diplomatic tension between British and Russian officials. Initially, authorities thought Litvinenko was poisoned at a sushi restaurant, but alternative theories have since emerged.

Cowell’s book, published by Doubleday in the U.S., has been translated into many languages.

London-based Warner VP of production Ollie Madden is overseeing the film project.

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