By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com September 13, 2011 at 8:36AM
We imagine that Jeffrey Archer is not particularly well known outside the U.K. Which is a shame, because he's a fascinating figure; elected to Parliament aged only 29, before giving it up after five years, he went on to become both a millionaire and a successful writer of potboiler thrillers (perhaps most notably the "Kane and Abel" series, which CBS turned into a TV miniseries starring Sam Neill in the 80s). He returned to politics in the 1980s, becoming deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, but was swiftly unseated by a sex scandal, with tabloid the Daily Star alleging that he'd paid a prostitute for sex.
Archer was forced to resign and subsequently sued the Star for libel and won. The suit came back to haunt him a decade later, however, when he was selected to stand as a candidate for mayor of London and his alibi at the original libel trial was revealed to be false, earning him a conviction of perjury and four years in prison. His career in politics was obviously over, but since his release he's continued to write prolifically, include a three-volume diary of his time in prison.
Unfortunately, his quote-unquote literary work is rather less interesting than his life, but with executives in search of action franchises, that's not going to stop them, as The Hollywood Reporter brings news that veteran producer Frank Marshall (the "Bourne" series, "Raiders of the Lost Ark") has acquired the rights to two of Archer's novels, "A Matter of Honor" and "Honor Among Thieves," and intends to turn them into action movies, saying "Jeffrey Archer is a master storyteller whose suspenseful plots and compelling characters have the potential for multi-feature film franchise with both domestic and international appeal."
"A Matter Of Honor" follows the son of a colonel, Adam Scott (which at least makes casting a little easier...), who receives a letter from his father with a terrible secret -- that when the United States purchased Alaska from Russia, it was only a 99-year lease. Scott's love is killed, and he's soon pursued by the CIA, the KGB, and everyone in between. The same character doesn't feature in the sequel, which has an even more ludicrous plot involving Saddam Hussein seeking revenge for losing the first Gulf War and teaming up with the Mafia to try to steal the Declaration of Independence so he can set fire to it in public, but it's expected that the plot will be re-worked so it could serve as a possible sequel.
We can't quite believe that Marshall's as desperate for a "Bourne"-type franchise as to go into this well, but then he's apparently friends with Archer 'through sports' (Hollywood moguls: please don't start buying scripts off your golf buddies). Some might argue that between Indiana Jones and Jason Bourne, Marshall knows how to spot a potential action hero. To which we would reply that Frank Marshall also directed "Congo." No talent is currently attached, but a screenwriter is being sought, and the film is expected to shoot at least partially in Toronto.