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Giamatti to star in HBO telepic

Tom Hanks' Playtone is producing Khrushchev project

HBO and Playtone are looking to revisit one of the lighter chapters of the Cold War: Nikita Khrushchev’s two-week tour of the U.S.

Paul Giamatti is attached to play Khrushchev in the telepic that is in the early stages of development. HBO and Playtone have acquired the rights to the book “K Blows Top,” by Peter Carlson, which recounts Khrushchev’s 13-day American sojourn in September 1959, a time when Cold War tensions between the world superpowers were running high.

Veteran feature and telepic scribe Paul Bernbaum is set to pen the script. Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are exec producers with Perri Kipperman and David Stern serving as co-exec producers.

Khrushchev’s tour was the brainchild of President Eisenhower, who suggested the visit as a way of settling the dispute between the superpowers over West Berlin. But the formal invitation that was sent to the Communist Party boss inadvertently left out Eisenhower’s condition that the sides reach a compromise on West Berlin before Khrushchev made the trek.

Once in the States, Khrushchev famously blew up when he was informed that a planned trip to Disneyland had to be tabled because of security concerns. (The book’s title comes from New York Daily News headline about the Disneyland flap.)

All told, Khrushchev and his family soaked up the local color in Washington, D.C.; New York; Hollywood, Calif.; San Francisco and Pittsburgh, Pa.

Khrushchev and Eisenhower were said to have established a good rapport during their time together at Camp David, but that ended a year later with the Francis Gary Powers-U2 spying incident.

Giamatti is no stranger to playing historic figures or working for Playtone, which produced the Giamatti starrer “John Adams” mini for HBO two years ago.

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