Mar 7, 2012

Tradecraft: Keri Russell Defects From IMF to KGB for FX

Deadline reports that Mission: Impossible III co-star Keri Russell has landed the lead role in FX's 1980s-set KGB sleeper drama The Americans. As previously reported, The Americans is one of two spy scripts currently in pilot contention penned by Joseph Weisberg, a former CIA officer turned writer, and author of the espionage novel An Ordinary Spy. (His other show is that drama following assistants at various agencies in the Intelligence Community that Paul Greengrass is attached to produce and possibly direct.) Newly relevant again after the 2010 bust of the Anna Chapman spy ring (so known because she was the hot redhead, not because she was the mastermind), this show follows two KGB spies living as husband and wife in a Washington D.C. suburb during the final decade of the Cold War. Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings may have an arranged spy marriage, but living under the incredible pressure of running a network of agents while maintaining their cover (which includes two children who know nothing about their parents' true profession), they find it becoming more real and more passionate every day. And Phillip finds himself getting more and more comfortable with the American way of life. This premise fascinates me, and I can't wait to see it realized by Weisberg, executive producer Graham Yost (best known as the showrunner of Justified, but to me forever thought of as the author of Spy-Tech, a kid-friendly non-fiction resource about the real-life tools of the spy trade, which I had on near-constant loan from the Waterford Library when I was growing up) and director Gavin O'Connor. I really hope The Americans makes it to series!

Keri Russell is most famous for playing the title role on Felicity (and J.J. Abrams once said that Alias grew out of him pondering, "What if Felicity became a spy?"), though her most recent series was the wildly uneven though sometimes very funny Fox sitcom Running Wilde.

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