Mar 14, 2011

Tradecraft: HBO Plots Another Cold War Spy Drama

Deadline reports that HBO, the same cable network that's already devloping a Berlin-set 1960s spy drama with Malcolm Gladwell, is now concocting another espionage period piece from slightly later in the Cold War: the 1980s.  The series, from from writer-director Martyn Burke (Pirates of Silicon Valley, Avenging Angelo), will focus on deep-cover Russian sleeper agents operating in the United States, a subject he previously explored in a 1982 documentary.  Interestingly, the trade blog notes that it's to some degree inspired by true events (tangentially) from Burke's life: "In the 80s, [Burke] was traveling the U.S. with a camera crew while making a documentary. However, unbeknownst to him, the sound man on the crew was in reality a colonel in the Soviet KGB. The Soviet spy later set up his base of operations outside New York City while attempting to raise a family as an ordinary American citizen but was eventually caught."  The brief news item doesn't really give any indication of the potential show's tone, but if it winds up being remotely comedic, then it sounds a bit like the classic early 90s UK series Sleepers, which followed a pair of Russian sleepers in Britain who've grown accustomed to their cushy Capitalist lives and don't wish to be suddenly awakened. Burke's past spy filmography doesn't really hint at the tone, either; he's been all over the place!  In addition to the aforementioned documentary on KGB operations in the US called The KGB Connections (obviously serious), Burke also co-wrote the wacky Zucker Brothers spoof Top Secret!

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