Feb 25, 2010

Tradecraft: Mike Newell To Direct Litvinenko Movie

Variety reports (via Dark Horizons) that Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireDonnie Brasco) is angling to direct a movie for Warner Bros. about poisoned ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko.  Newell is developing the project with writer David Scarpa, basing it on the Doubleday book The Terminal Spy by New York Times London bureau chief Alan Cowell.  Former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in 2006 with polonium-210, allegedly while eating in a London sushi restaurant.  On his deathbed, he accused then-Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his assassination.  With it's Cold War overtones and Flemingesque bizarreness, the story generated headlines worldwide and triggered an international investigation and subsequent diplomatic tension between Russia and Britain.  It's since fueled other pop culture spy stories, including Dame Stella Rimington's novel Illegal Action, and was also the subject of a 2007 documentary, Poisoned by Polonium: The Litvinenko File.  Michael Mann was developing a rival Litvinenko project at Sony with the ex-spook's wife, but that seems to have stalled in recent months.

For an excellent interview with Mike Newell that doesn't actually touch on this project, but does cover almost all the rest of his career, including his time directing The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, visit /Film.

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