Sep 16, 2016

Tradecraft: NBCUniversal Developing NSA/U.S. Cyber Command TV Series

Deadline reports that NBCUniversal International Studios, Participant Media, and the production company behind Downton Abbey, Carnival Films, are developing a TV series based on Going Clear director Alex Gibney's incredibly compelling documentary Zero Days. The trade reports that Gibney will direct (it's unclear if they mean the whole series or just the pilot) and Stephen Schiff (The Americans) will write, and the two will produce along with Marc Shmuger. Zero Days will form the basis of the first season. The documentary tells the true story of a joint U.S.-Israeli operation to create a computer virus, known as Stuxnet, to damage Iran's nuclear program. But the virus gets out of control and, Skynet-style, takes on a life of its own. The thriller series is "tentatively titled" Stuxnet, but since that is obviously one of the worst titles ever bandied about for a television series, presumably that will change. (What's wrong with the enigmatic Zero Days?)

According to the trade, "Season 1 of Stuxnet will focus on what happens when a self-replicating computer virus developed by the West to disable and destroy nuclear facilities in the Middle East starts to spread beyond its intended targets, threatening the security of those it was intended to protect. The drama will tell a tale of hackers, spies, nuclear secrets and how one clandestine mission opens the Pandora’s box of cyberwarfare forever – a new era of global conflict without rules." Presumably, like the documentary, it will offer a glimpse inside the ultra-secretive worlds of the NSA (a more or less defensive SIGINT agency) and America's offensive cyberspook outfit, U.S. Cyber Command. Definitely fertile ground for a spy show!

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