EXCLUSIVE: Ripped from the headlines — quite literally in this case — Gail Berman’s The Jackal Group is developing a feature film based on the case of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. The reveal comes after news this morning that the former U.S. intelligence analyst — arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life in prison for passing top secret information to the Israeli government — will be paroled in November after spending 30 years in prison.
The film will be based on the play The Law Of Return, by playwright Martin Blank, which covers Pollard’s rocky employment by the U.S. Navy, and his motivations for turning spy. Berman and SVP Film Development Rory Koslow are producing for Jackal Group, and Blank will write the script.
Pollard’s case has been a source of contention between the U.S. and Israel since his arrest, with Israel routinely calling for his release and the U.S. government refusing. Even now, his release is not a matter of clemency, but of his having served 30 years of a life sentence and thus becoming eligible for parole. However, the U.S. government is not generally inclined to give spies parole — in fact, in his autobiography, former president Bill Clinton said that then-CIA director George Tenet threatened to resign when Clinton considered commuting Pollard’s sentence in 1998.
Conventional wisdom holds that his release has been granted in part to reduce tensions between the U.S. and Israel over the recent agreement reached between Iran and the international community that would ease sanctions against Iran, an agreement vehemently opposed by Israel. (Pollard’s attorneys deny this take, however.) While Pollard’s release has been welcomed, it has also been met by Israel with some reservations.
Blank is repped by Gersh, and Attorney Jason Baruch.