Two decades after the end of the Cold War, Russian spies have never been hotter on American television. FX has The Americans, NBC has upcoming drama Allegiance, and now HBO has put in development The Commissar’s Report, a comedic drama thriller based on author-writer-director Martyn Burke’s 1984 Cold War satire. Burke will adapt his novel, writing the pilot script. Writer/director Jerry Zucker (Airplane!, Naked Gun, Ghost) and his wife, producer Janet Zucker (Friends With Benefits), are producing through their Zucker Prods.
The Commissar’s Report follows Dimitri, a young spy in post-war Stalinist Russia who rises so quickly through the ranks of Soviet espionage that he is sent to New York as a spy to help bring down America. But his life is quickly in mortal danger when he finds himself not only in love with America, but through a fluke of fate, becoming what he is pledged to destroy —a major capitalist. The project was brought into Zucker Prods. by director of development Katie Zucker.
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HBO and Burke first took a stab at developing a series about Soviet spies in the U.S. three years ago with Reds. The project was set in the 1980s and was based on real-life events from Burke’s early film career when he was making on a documentary. Unbeknownst to him, the sound man on the crew was in reality a colonel in the Soviet KGB who later set up his base of operations outside New York City while attempting to raise a family as an ordinary American citizen but was eventually caught. Burke also worked with HBO on the 1998 film The Pentagon Wars, which he co-wrote, and wrote and directed TNT’s Pirates Of Silicon Valley. Jerry and Janet Zucker, Zucker Prods. and Burke are repped by Paradigm.