EXCLUSIVE: The new mandate at Focus Features seems to be commercial fare with meaty roles. Here’s a deal made before this week’s shakeup that fits that bill. Focus acquired screen rights to Circle Of Treason: A CIA Account Of Traitor Aldrich Ames And The Men He Betrayed. The book was written by Sandra Grimes & Jeanne Vertefeuille. Barry Josephson is producing through his Josephson Entertainment banner. Adam Schneider is co-producing. Anne Waterhouse & Joe Shrapnel will write the script.
The movie is a dramatic thriller based on real events in the late 1980s and early ’90s in which sounds like Zero Dark Thirty-like dogged hunt for a CIA traitor. The authors methodically took down America’s most notorious traitor, and had to battle against the CIA’s institutional hierarchy and chauvinism to do it. Vertefeuille, who passed away, rose in the CIA from the position of typist to taking foreign postings in places like Ethiopia, Finland the The Hague before working in counterintelligence. That’s where she met Grimes.
After seeing how a coterie of agents and assets — some they knew personally — were assassinated or imprisoned in the Soviet Union, they became convinced there was a mole in their midst. The movie is the methodical hunt that brought down Ames, who received millions of dollars for his treachery and nearly got out of the country before he was caught.