Dec 12, 2013

Trailer for ABC's Cold War Spy Miniseries The Assets

The Americans won't be the only 1980s Russian agents on the small screen this winter. The success of FX's incredible Reagan-era spy series (review here) has caused ripples on both sides of the Atlantic, resulting in new serious Cold War spy dramas in the works from ABC and the BBC. And more Cold War spy dramas is nothing but a good thing, no matter what the networks' motivations in buying them. In July Deadline reported that ABC greenlit The Assets, an 8-part miniseries (or "limited series" as they now call them) based on based on the book Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed by Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille, the CIA counter-intelligence officers who caught Ames. Aldrich Ames was one of America's most notorious and damaging traitors of all time, a Soviet mole who fed valuable intel to the KGB that led to the deaths of at least ten CIA assets. And like The Americans, The Assets also stars an Englishman named Rhys doing an American accent. Not Matthew Rhys, but Paul Rhys, who once played Simon Templar in a series of Nineties BBC radioplays and also guest-starred on Spooks (aka MI-5). Paul Rhys plays Ames, while Jodie Whittaker (who was truly excellent in BBC's Broadchurch earlier this year) plays Grimes and Harriet Walter (who also guest-starred on Spooks, and happens to be the niece of Bond villain Christopher Lee) plays Vertefeuille. Foyle's War's Julian Ovenden also stars. The Assets premieres Thursday, January 2 on ABC. Morgan Hertzan, Rudy Bednar and Andrew Chapman executive produce. Here's the trailer:

Interestingly, this isn't the only project in the works based on Circle of Treason. In October Deadline reported that the screen rights to the book (evidently separate from the television rights) had been acquired by Focus Features. While the trade blog (oddly) didn't mention The Assets in its story, it did offer a nice summary of the movie's approach to the story:
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.
Barry Josephson is producing, Adam Schneider is co-producing, and Anne Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel are writing the script. Personally, I'm eager to see both versions of this deadly real-life mole hunt! If the film version is anywhere near as good as Billy Ray's Breach (which told the story Ames' equally damaging contemporary mole in the FBI, Robert Hanssen), then it will really be something to look forward to.

1 comment:

Silent Hunter said...

Bad news: ABC has pulled this from the schedule after two episodes due to dire ratings.