Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame: The Movie
As I document in my book "Hollywood Nation," Tinseltown interest in former terrorism czar Richard Clarke's book "Against All Enemies" pretty much stunned his agents at the time. They were apparently unaware of the amount of Bush antipathy that the town had accrued.
Following the release of Clarke's highly critical tome, his literary agent, Len Sherman, expressed astonishment at the avalanche of calls he received from Hollywood executives seeking the film rights for the book.
Sherman told the New York Times that Clarke "wrote the book to get the story out, he wasn't really thinking about the movies" and added that "even the publishing house [Free Press, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster] wasn't thinking that this would be a movie. It's a nonfiction, policy-driven book. But it became an inevitability."
Clarke's film agent, Ron Bernstein, was deluged with requests from executives, agents and producers for copies of the book. "A million people called," Bernstein explained, including "almost every studio" and "every major production company."
Although HBO and a division of Universal wanted the rights to the Clarke manuscript, Sony Pictures Entertainment ended up cinching the deal. Sources indicated at the time that Clarke had sold the story for an amount in the low six figures.
In a similar and more recent Hollywood-type turn, former ambassador Joe Wilson has been able to generate media attention for himself and his CIA wife that dwarfs the kind Clarke received back then. Wilson's reps could accurately suppose that Hollywood has some big dollars to dangle in front of the cunning couple.
Wilson got a taste of Hollywood cinema in an earlier project when he participated with fellow Bush critic and television and film producer Robert Greenwald in the documentary "Uncovered: The Truth About the War in Iraq."
A future Hollywood release about Wilson and Plame might be called something like "The Acerbic Ambassador and His Sometimes Spy Spouse."
Don't look for that title to be on a marquee, though. Wilson continues to portray his wife and himself as victims. More to their liking might be a name like "Our Years in Hell."
Wilson recently told a crowd of admirers at Michigan State University that since his wife's job at the CIA had been made public, "it has been hell for the last 27 months."
Evidently, Wilson had actually spoken to his wife about who might "play her in the movie."
I'm not sure, though, that the duo ever discussed some of the other characters that would have to be cast if a movie script were to tell the entire tale.
In a Wilson-Plame film, Wilson's CIA employee spouse being a "covert" agent could be the topic of a series of takes, with a veteran actor playing the role of Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely. The retired officer and Fox contributor let it be known on the "John Batchelor Show" that more than a year before Robert Novak wrote on the subject, Wilson casually remarked to him that his wife worked at the CIA.
Wilson, however, claims that although he ran into Vallely twice in Fox's green room, he never divulged his wife's occupation.
This is just the kind of tension that producers look for: Somebody is lying, but who?
In trying to determine if it's Wilson who's twisting the truth, one need only to look at his book. Concerning the question of how he obtained the Niger assignment, Wilson wrote that "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter."
But the conclusion of the Senate Select Committee was that Valerie had pulled some strings in getting the assignment for her spouse. In fact, Valerie had written a memo and arranged a meeting for Wilson to get the job of traveling to Africa for an important intelligence investigation, that being to find out whether Iraq had tried to buy the infamous "yellowcake" uranium from Niger.
Eight months after his journey, Wilson found out that some of the "yellowcake" documents had turned out to be forgeries. He then informed several reporters that the forged documents had caused him to determine that the "yellowcake" story was untrue.
But the forged documents didn't turn up until eight months after Wilson's task ended. They couldn't have had anything to do with his report.
Wilson's "hell" was supposedly caused by the so-called outing of his wife's covert role at the CIA. But Novak had written that her employment with the CIA was "well-known around Washington."
And while appearing on CNBC, Andrea Mitchell said that the status of Plame as a CIA employee was "widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community ..." (although Mitchell now claims that she misspoke).
And Wayne Simmons, a 27-year veteran at the CIA, told Fox News Radio that Wilson had introduced Plame for many years as "my CIA wife."
And NationalReviewOnline's Cliff May told the Fox News Channel's John Gibson, "I knew this [that Plame worked for the CIA], and a lot of other people knew it"
Wilson was allegedly safeguarding his wife's so-called secret job while simultaneously drawing loads of attention and publicity to himself. He jawboned with reporters, made public political speeches and wrote a piece that was published in the New York Times.
The content of his expression seemed tailor-made to tag the Bush administration with a Niger "yellowcake" uranium lie.
But the administration didn't lie. It told the truth: that "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
During Wilson's "hell" period, a Hollywood-style photo, with Plame's eyes concealed behind sunglasses, appeared in Vanity Fair. The picture was taken a couple days after Wilson had announced on "Meet the Press" that his wife would not allow herself to be photographed. Guess he forgot to add the qualifier "sans designer shades."
If they do make a movie about Joe and Valerie, perhaps John Lovitz could land a spot in the film as Wilson. Then he could resurrect his prevaricating "Saturday Night Live" role.