EXCLUSIVE: Oren Moverman, who wrote and directed the critically acclaimed The Messenger and followed it with the upcoming LAPD cop drama Rampart, is signing to adapt The Terrorist Search Engine for Sony Pictures and producer Scott Rudin. The film was set up recently as a potential star vehicle for Rudin’s The Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg, based on a New York Magazine profile of a baby-faced counter-terrorism expert witness named Evan Kohlmann. Kohlmann was called “the Doogie Howser of terrorism” for his penchant for culling through jihadist videos, communiques and websites to unearth terror threats from all over the globe.
By the time he was 23, Kohlmann’s convincing testimony led to the conviction of nearly two dozen defendants on terrorist charges. The profile, written by Wesley Yang, made clear that even years later, Kohlmann was a controversial figure because he made his living as a convenient witness for government lawyers looking for convictions. Moverman is writing with an eye toward directing, though the studio says that his deal right now is just to turn in a script. WME reps Moverman.