Benghazi Grips Hollywood: ‘Zero Footprint’ Readies As Competing Projects Circle

Benghazi — it’s the scandal heard around the world. Alcon Entertainment has acquired rights to the spec script Zero Footprint which tells the story of the 18-month “off book” operation that ended with the fatal 2012 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi that killed four of our own, including a U.S. ambassador. That makes three projects right now racing to the big screen to tell the Benghazi story. With script under arm, Alcon is poised to push forward immediately.

kaffash20121019091653600The Alcon project is told through the eyes of the ex-Special Forces operator who undertook the mission — a real military hero — who must remain nameless for security reasons. It recounts the chain of events that led to that fateful day when U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Services’ Sean Smith and CIA operatives Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were mercilessly killed by Islamic terrorists.

Scott Charnick, Charley Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides penned the script. The  trio had previously sold a military story pitch to Warner Bros. last month, and the Parlapanides brothers previously scripted The Immortals.

Two other films are also scrambling to be the first to the big screen. Michael Bay is adapting 13 Hours: The Inside Account Of What Really Happened On Benghazi for Paramount based on the Mitchell Zuckoff nonfiction book. Shooting begins next month in Malta and Morocco with John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Max Martini, Freddie Stroma and Pablo Schreiber starring. Erwin Stoff is producing from a script by Chuck Hogan.

Meanwhile, Relativity and Dana Brunetti (Fifty Shades Of Grey) acquired life rights to the two former Navy SEALs/CIA operatives — Doherty and Woods — who lost their lives that day as they tried to save others. The script for that one is currently being written by Matt Sand (Deepwater Horizon).

The Alcon project is moving ahead at a rapid pace, too, but they say they are different from the others. This script is more Syrianna than the siege on the compound.

“This about why it happened and the siege of the embassy is the last part of the third act. This is about everything that led up to that attack,” said Alcon co-founder and co-CEO Andrew Kosove. “We talked about this from a timing standpoint. We are not trying to throw anyone under the bus politically. There are secrets and there are secrets that need to be kept for national security. We are looking carefully at the timing of the release.”

They are looking at a distribution release not unlike what Zero Dark Thirty did in dropping into  theaters well after the search and subsequent extermination of Osama bin Laden. That movie came out two years after bin Laden was executed for his role in the worst terrorist attack on American soil — 9/11.

“There are a lot of different things that were going on in the region at the time,” said Alcon’s other co-founder, co-CEO Broderick Johnson. “This story was one of several missions that led up to these events. This is the behind the scenes story of why this all happened. Our goal now is to find a serious filmmaker to propel the project forward. We are looking for the right creative partner.”

The news comes just hours after the House Committee on Benghazi granted then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a two-week reprieve on handing over her private emails and communication regarding Libya and Benghazi. They are asking for any correspondence, too, to 10 specific staffers.

After the terrorist attack, Clinton came under heavy criticism for denying repeated requests for additional security at the Consulate after they feared being targets of al-Qaeda, even to the extent of seeing one of their own security police snapping pictures of the compound. After the brutal attack, initial reports circulated was that it was an uprising out of protests related to the release of anti-Islam movie Innocence Of Muslim. Later it was revealed that it was a premeditated attack, designed to kill as many in the compound as possible on the anniversary of September 11. The question to this day remains why the State Department denied repeated requests for extra security.

Charnick and the Parlapanides brothers will also executive produce with Kosove and  Johnson and Cynthia Sikes Yorkin producing.

Zero Footprint offers a glimpse into the world of deniable operators and selfless risks that they take in the line of duty while examining the complex nature of the war on terror “where allegiances and loyalties shift like lines in the sand.”

The Benghazi debacle still haunts Clinton to this day and will likely be brought up again and again should she throw her hat in officially into the ring for the White House.

Charnick is represented by Innovative Artists and Andy Galker at Jackoway, Tyerman. The Parlapanides brothers are represented by Circle of Confusion, WME and Jeff Frankel at McKuin, Frankel, Whitehead. Yorkin is represented by Innovative and Hirsch Wallerstein.

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