Primeridian Entertainment has hired Cyrus Nowrasteh to write and direct a film on Soviet dissident and Nobel Prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Producing will be Primeridian’s Arcadiy Golubovich and Tim O’Hair, who’ll provide equity financing for their first feature under the banner. They’ve optioned D.M. Thomas’ Orwell Prize-winning biography Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century In His Life. Nowrasteh, who last helmed The Stoning Of Soriah M and whose TV work includes The Day Reagan Was Shot and the controversial Path to 9/11, will write the script with wife Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh. They just adapted Anne Rice’s Christ The Lord.
“It’s a privilege to tell the courageous story of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn,” said the director. “Millions suffered and died in the Soviet labor camps. As a survivor, he resolved to tell the world about it. The power of his pen, despite the suppression of his work and every effort to silence his voice, helped bring about the downfall of one of the greatest tyrannies mankind has ever known.”
Said Primeridian’s Golubovich: “As a Russian nonconformist and activist as well as a towering literary figure, Solzhenitsyn’s life makes for a compelling feature film, and we are thrilled to be bringing Cyrus’ talent on board to weave this fascinating story.”
Solzhenitsyn was a Red Army officer who, after being accused of anti-Soviet propaganda, was imprisoned by Stalin in the gulag system in February 1945. The period later became the basis for his three-volume The Gulag Archipelago, a chronicle of his ordeal as captive in the Soviet forced labor camp system, unacknowledged during the Stalinist era. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, was expelled from the former Soviet Union in 1974, and lived in exile in Vermont until he was able to return to Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the mid-1990s. Solzhenitsyn died in 2008. Nowrasteh is repped by CAA.
Few memes about Obama are as comical or aggravating as his “gutsy decision” to take out bin Laden. For one thing, military and intelligence insiders are strongly
suggesting that he didn’t even make that call. And after all, what President wouldn’t green-light that no-brainer? Jimmy Carter, maybe. But now it has been confirmed that Bill Clinton passed on at least one clear opportunity to give a CIA team that go-ahead – letting the terrorist leader live to mastermind the 9/11 attacks. The incident very closely resembled a dramatized version in the controversial 2006 miniseries The Path to 9/11, a scene which Clinton and his people previously attacked as an outrageous fabrication.
This past Sunday night, CBS’ 60 Minutes broadcast a startling segment featuring
former CIA officer Hank Crumpton, Deputy Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism
Center, chief of its Bin Laden unit in the late 90s, and one of the first to enter into Afghanistan after 9/11. Interviewer Lara Logan perceptively zeroed in on Crumpton’s participation in operations to capture and/or kill Osama bin Laden well before the 9/11 attacks, and what Crumpton calls “the lack of response on the part of the administration.”
Crumpton, whom Logan calls “one of the most seasoned and accomplished CIA officers of his generation,” described his team’s sighting of bin Laden:
Crumpton: Our human sources took us to a village uh, far, not far from Kandahar.
Logan: And what did you see there?
Crumpton: We saw a security detail, a convoy, and we saw bin Laden exit the vehicle.
Crumpton: Clearly. And we had – the optics were spot on, beaming back to us, CIA headquarters. We immediately alerted the White House, and the Clinton administration’s response was, “Well, it will take several hours for the TLAMs, the cruise missiles launched from submarines, to reach that objective. So you need to tell us where bin Laden will be five or six hours from now.” (Pause) The frustration was enormous.
Logan: So at that moment you wanted to kill him.
Logan: But you couldn’t get permission.
Logan then narrates that Crumpton “couldn’t get permission to do anything, including allowing the CIA’s Afghan agents on the ground to attack bin Laden’s compound.”
The Path to 9/11 was an ABC miniseries written and produced by Cyrus Nowrasteh [full disclosure: Nowrasteh is my friend and I worked on the project as well] which aired on two September nights in 2006. It dramatized the historical thread connecting the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Islamic attacks on American interests throughout the ‘90s, and the terrorism of that fateful morning in 2001.
Prior to its premiere, an accusation of “conservative bias” on the part of the filmmakers quickly spun into leftist hysteria that the $30+ million miniseries was – laughably – a “well-honed propaganda operation” on the part of a stealth cabal of conservatives. (Check out John Ziegler’s riveting documentary Blocking the Path to 9/11 for the whole outrageous story.)
The miniseries featured a scene vetted, as all the scenes were, by a battery of ABC lawyers, in which a CIA team and its Afghan allies had bin Laden in its sights, called the White House for approval to make the hit, and were denied the go-ahead. This scene drove Clinton to near-apoplexy in an infamous interview with Chris Wallace. Another CIA bin Laden chief, Michael Scheuer, stated that the Clinton administration missed out on as many as ten opportunities to nail bin Laden.
Clinton and his supporters, fearing the miniseries would tarnish his political legacy, claimed it was full of such lies and pulled out all the stops to suppress the show. It nearly didn’t air at all – Disney was pressured to pull it or censor it by the Senate Democratic leadership, led by Harry Reid; three minutes ended up being cut from the broadcast. Despite a #1 rating on its first night and 28 million viewers, Disney CEO Robert Iger refuses to re-air this most accurate dramatization of the 9/11 saga, release a DVD, or even sell the rights to another company. He has explained without elaboration that it’s a “business decision.”
Business decision? Or is the show simply an embarrassment to Bill Clinton and a potential threat to the political future of Mrs. Clinton? Iger is a friend and supporter of the Clintons, and Nowrasteh himself was told privately by an ABC
executive at the time of the controversy that “If Hillary weren’t running for
President, this wouldn’t be a problem.”
The Path to 9/11 may continue to be suppressed, but thanks to Hank Crumpton, its truth no longer can be.
Director Cyrus Nowrasteh, Anne Rice Join Forces to Bring ‘Christ the Lord’ to the Big Screen
Sometimes it helps to get a rave review from the right person.
Novelist Anne Rice loved the haunting 2010 film “The Stoning of Soraya M.” and asked her agent to see if he had seen the movie and, better yet, knew the filmmaker behind it – “the Path to 9/11” director Cyrus Nowrasteh.
Turns out her agent also represented Nowrasteh, and a connection was made. Nowrasteh told the agent he’d love to work with Rice some day, and soon the director had a copy of Rice’s 2005 book “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” in hand.
A few conversations later, and both sides decided to bring “Christ the Lord,” the diligently researched account of Jesus’ childhood, to the big screen.
What happened next is like the fast-forward version of modern movie making.
“The issue then became, ‘how can we set this up as a movie? Where can we take this?” he asks. “I had had worked with 1492 Pictures before. They looked at it and responded enthusiastically.”
Tensions can often flare between authors and filmmakers, but Nowrasteh reports a fluid give-and-take between his creative team, which includes his co-screenwriter and wife Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh. and Rice.
“Once we had a draft that everyone was excited about, we kicked it back to her. We wanted her detailed input and participation,” he says. “We felt a responsibility to her. We didn’t want to go out with the script until she put her stamp on it.”
It certainly helped that Rice is no stranger to films inspired by her texts.
“Anne understands the challenges inherent to adapting a novel to the screen,” he says, referring to Rice-inspired productions like “Interview with a Vampire” and “Queen of the Damned.”
“Christ the Lord,” is currently in pre-production, is what Nowrasteh calls a “work of informed fiction.”
“There’s a great chapter at the end of the book where she talks about her sources, what she worked from,” he says, including the New Testamanet, the Apocrypha and early legends pertaining to the life of Christ. “It’s not as if she sat down and made a story. She really did her research.”
This won’t be the first time Nowrasteh dealt with a religiously infused film. “Stoning” dealt with a cruel interpretation of faith in which an Iranian woman is condemned to death for defying the will of her husband.
“It was a small miracle that that movie got made,” the director recalls. “It was a territory where no one has gone before … something as barbaric and terrifying as stoning.”
The film earned its fair share of raves, but one critical reaction still wrankles Nowrasteh. The New York Times referred to the film’s grueling final act as “torture porn.”
“I found that really offensive,” he says, adding other critics contended the practice shown in the film is a thing of the past. Sadly, news of a fresh stoning case following the film’s U.K. release proved that to be a lie.
“If anything, our movie confirmed a lot of the things that were happening in Iran,” he says.
He expects “Christ the Lord” to get a far different reception, and he hopes the film won’t be pidgeonholed strictly as a “religious” film.
“This is a movie for religious poepe as well as for the masses,” he says. We want this movie to appeal to as abroad an audience as possible … it’s a beautiful story told with a great sort of understanding of the times and the period.”
Producing Anne Rice tome ‘Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt’
After helping bring Harry Potter and Kevin McCallister to life, Chris Columbus is looking to put another famous kid up on the big screen: Jesus Christ.
Columbus’ 1492 Pictures and CJ Entertainment have acquired the rights to the Anne Rice tome “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt,” which tells the story of a seven-year-old Jesus, who departs Egypt with his family to return home to Nazareth and discovers the truth about his birth, who he is, and his purpose in life.
Cyrus Nowrasteh will direct from a screenplay he penned with Betsy Nowrasteh. Columbus will produce along with Michael Barnathan and Mark Radcliffe through 1492 Pictures with Sean Lee, Patricia Chun and Keo Lee producing through CJ Entertainment.
Rice came to Nowrasteh first and asked if he would take on the project after seeing his film “The Stoning of Soraya M.” After agreeing to write and direct the project, Nowrasteh brought it to Columbus and Marnathan at 1492.
“This film has the potential to be a cinematic classic, a picture that will appeal to all ages, all around the world,” Columbus said. “I am proud to be part of this incredible production.”
The Nowrastehs and Rice are repped by CAA. Columbus and 1492 are repped by WME.
By THE DEADLINE TEAM | Friday September 9, 2011 @ 3:34pm PDT
The think tank American Freedom Alliance said today it will screen the full unedited version of the 2006 ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 on Sunday, Sept. 11, the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The group bills the event at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City as the first time the unedited version will be shown, after ABC trimmed about a minute of footage ahead of its original broadcast airing — a move the mini’s writer-producer Cyrus Nowrasteh said was due to political pressure from Democrats who disputed the facts portrayed in the script, which was critical of President Bill Clinton for not killing Osama bin Laden when given the opportunity in 1998. (ABC advertised that the mini was based on the 9/11 Commission report, but commission member Richard Ben-Veniste and the Clinton Administration were among those that disputed its version of events). That same pressure, Nowrasteh has claimed many times since, has delayed the 4 1/2-hour miniseries from being released on DVD. In other words, it all became a big morass that nobody could really fix (see ABC’s 9/11: Big Mystery! Where’s Disney Chairman George Mitchell In This Mess?).
The American Freedom Alliance, which bills itself “a non-political, non-aligned movement that promotes, defends and upholds Western values and ideals,” will show the mini in two parts: 10AM-12:30 PM and 5PM-7PM, with a forum and commemoration for 9/11 victims held between screenings. Nowrasteh will be interviewed live at 4:30 PM by John Ziegler, whose documentary Blocking The Path to 9/11 chronicles efforts to prevent the miniseries from airing.
Cyrus Nowrasteh is soft-spoken and polite, not the qualities you would expect from a man who has directed The Stoning of Soraya M., one of the most disturbing and controversial movies you will ever see. In Israel recently to promote his film, which just opened here, he spoke to reporters after a screening. Even though he had just arrived that day from Los Angeles, he was filled with energy and eager to talk…
Besides the 2008 Toronto Film Festival runnerup (behind SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE) and the LA FILM FESTIVAL2009 award for Best Narrative Feature, THE STONING OF SORAYA M. was also recently cited as the reason for Shohreh Aghdashloo to be honored for a Humanitarian Award by WIFTS, the Women’s International Film and Television Showcase on December 4, 2009 in Los Angeles. Also, Ms. Aghdashloo was honored by the International Press Academy, receiving the Satellite Award for Best Actress, Drama, 2009. Director Cyrus Nowrasteh accepted on Ms. Aghdashloo’s behalf. THE STONING OF SORAYA M. was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Drama (Mozhan Marno) and for Best Film, Drama, and chosen as one of the top ten films of 2009!
Those who want to know the truth about Iranian justice must see Cyrus Nowrasteh’s gripping feature documentary film “The Stoning of Soraya M.”
The film – based on the book written by Friedounce Sahebjam and debuting today at the Toronto International Film Festival – depicts the true life story of Soraya M, an Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery.
Cyrus Nowrasteh‘s “The Stoning of Soraya M.” will be having its World Premiere in the Discovery section of the Toronto International Film Festival. Starring Shohreh Aghdashloo, the film follows a woman falsely accused of adultery in a remote Iranian village. Based on the book byFreidoune Sahebjam, TIFF describes “Stoning” as about “voiceless women, armed with only their innocence and dignity, [who] are no match for the overwhelming primal forces that overrun their town.” Nowrasteh talked to indieWIRE about the film and his hopes for Toronto.