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Focus Takes Rights to CIA Manhunt Thriller 'Circle of Treason,' on the Capture of Traitor Aldrich Ames

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood October 7, 2013 at 12:47PM

Focus Features has nabbed screen rights to Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille's "Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed." In the book, the authors describe systematically hunting down America's most notorious traitor, all the while pushing up against the CIA's institutionalized sexism.
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Cover detail of TIME Magazine from March 7, 1994
Cover detail of TIME Magazine from March 7, 1994

Focus Features has nabbed screen rights to Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille's "Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed." In the book, the authors describe systematically hunting down America's most notorious traitor, all the while pushing up against the CIA's institutionalized sexism.

Jeanne Vertefeuille, center
Jeanne Vertefeuille, center

The movie would be a dramatic rendering of the search that took place in the late 1980s and early '90s. It clearly has echoes of "Zero Dark Thirty," making it an appealing project.

Vertefeuille, who died earlier this year at age 80, has a particularly fascinating story: She began as a typist in the CIA, and eventually rose in rank, assigned to foreign posts in locales like Ethiopia and Finland. She then made the transition to counterintelligence, where she met Grimes.

The two women saw how a slew of fellow agents were either being assassinated or imprisoned in the Soviet Union. Convinced there was a mole among them to be smoked out, Grimes and Vertefeuille ultimately took down Ames. He was being paid millions for his intel, and almost scraped out of the US without being caught.

This article is related to: News, Focus Features, News


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.