Sep 21, 2010

Tradecraft: Robert Littell's Legends Comes To TV

Another day, another CIA show.  I know, I know.  I'm reporting these trade stories with such frequency these days even I'm getting a bit sick of new spy show announcements.  But this is a good one... potentially much better than some of the others we've been discussing lately.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, "NBC has picked up a pilot about a CIA agent."  Yes, with that lead (it's the whole first paragraph), I suspect someone at the trade had their tongue in their cheek. Luckily, the article then goes into a little bit more detail and reports that this show is called Legends, and it's based on Robert Littell's well-reviewed 2005 novel of the same name.  Sadly I haven't read it, but it's been on my Amazon wish list for half a decade now.  Which is to say, I've long meant to read it, and I'm a bit surprised to learn for just how long.  Time flies.  Anyway, the intriguing premise as recapitulated by the trade is that "the 20th Century Fox TV project is about a government operative with an uncanny gift for 'legends' -- what spooks call false identities -- and is sent on a variety of missions while simultaneously coping with the possibility that his own identity may be a 'legend' too."  It's a good idea for a show and it springs from a good author, and the people behind it have experience in the field.  Producer Howard Gordon is a 24 veteran and the same Howard Gordon we just read about yesterday who set up Homeland, another CIA-themed show, at Showtime, and writer Mark Bomback penned Live Free or Die Hard and is currently adapting Ben Macintyre's Agent Zigzag, as reported last year.

This isn't Littell's first brush with television.  His epic historical spy novel The Company was adapted into a miniseries for TNT in 2007.

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