Scribes Lawrence Schiller and Norman Mailer will exec produce a CBS miniseries based on the case of FBI agent Robert Hanssen, accused of passing secrets to the Soviet Union.
Schiller and Mailer — who most recently collaborated on the Eye’s adaptation of Schiller’s bestselling novel about O.J. Simpson, “An American Tragedy” — have already started research on the project, which is not expected to be ready for broadcast until May 2002 at the earliest.
“This is something which touches on a subject Mailer and I have been interested in for years,” Schiller said. Pair worked together on 1996’s “Oswald’s Tale,” which revolved around Lee Harvey Oswald’s experiences in the former Soviet Union.
Schiller covered the Oswald case from the time of John F. Kennedy’s assassination; journo conducted one of the last interviews with Jack Ruby. Both men also traveled to the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, forming key relationships with ex-Communists in the intelligence community.
It’s still too soon to tell in what direction the Hanssen mini will go, but Schiller said he’s intrigued by the fact that Hanssen doesn’t fit the typical spy profile.
“He’s unlike most other people accused of spying, because of his lifestyle,” Schiller said, noting that Hanssen is married, has six children and belonged to a Catholic group known for its ardent anti-Communist views.
“Our interest is in the minds of these people,” he said. “What jumped off the page here was that there were so many questions that had so few answers. These are wonderful questions that make for an incredible story.”
Schiller expects to travel to Russia within the next month to interview his former KGB sources.
“Because of our relationships with people in the U.S. government and the former Soviet Union, we’ve been promised incredible access we think will provide a portrait of Hanssen that hasn’t been seen elsewhere,” Schiller said.
Schiller won an Emmy for his work on the 1986 mini “Peter the Great.” In addition to this season’s Simpson mini, he produced the CBS mini version of “Perfect Murder, Perfect Town,” based on his bestseller about the JonBenet Ramsey case.
Schiller is repped by ICM, which helped package the pic.
Mailer’s books include “The Naked and the Dead,” “Tough Guys Don’t Dance” and the CIA-themed “Harlot’s Ghost.”