EXCLUSIVE: We hear CBS Television Studios has won an auction and is in final negotiations for the rights to former FBI director James Comey’s memoir A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. The bestselling book by Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump in May 2017, will be adapted into a miniseries that will be written by Oscar-nominated Captain Phillips scribe Billy Ray.
The project comes from Alex Kurtzman’s CBS TV Studios-based Secret Hideout and Shane Salerno’s The Story Factory. We hear it has a series commitment, though it has not been determined on which CBS platform it would air: CBS All Access, Showtime or CBS.
Word is Comey flew in to Los Angeles for a series of pitch meetings with both film and TV (premium cable and streaming) buyers, which was held at CAA earlier this month.
Ray executive produces through his Home Run Productions; Kurtzman and Heather Kadin via Secret Hideout; and Salerno via The Story Factory.
Appointed the seventh head of the FBI by President Barack Obama in 2013, Comey was the first high-ranking official to take on President Trump in a book. Its title, A Higher Loyalty, refers to the unflagging personal loyalty Comey claims Trump demanded of him over the Michael Flynn investigation, and fired him from the top FBI post when he didn’t get it. Comey, who says Trump had expressed to him frustration over the investigation into possible Russian collusion and over the FBI’s unwillingness to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her handling of emails, has been a persistent thorn in the side — and a target — of the President. That is ironic as many felt that Trump benefited from Comey’s decision to reopen an FBI inquiry into Clinton’s private server emails shortly before the 2016 election.
The book also reveals the high-stake dilemmas Comey encountered during his tenure and as a prosecutor of terrorists, mobsters and… Martha Stewart.
Ray has a solid track record of nonfiction feature adaptations. Besides the Paul Greengrass-directed Captain Phillips, which was a Best Picture nominee, Ray scripted Shattered Glass and Breach, the latter of which marked a rare occasion in which a film was shot inside FBI headquarters.
Kurtzman recently signed a new five-year deal with CBS TV Studios for his Secret Hideout banner. Under it, the Star Trek: Discovery co-creator/executive producer will oversee the development of new Star Trek series, miniseries and other content, starting with a new series staring Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard.
Comey’s deal was made by CAA and The Story Factory in partnership with Comey’s D.C.-based lit agents at Javelin.