EXCLUSIVE: UTA has signed Tony Mendez, the retired CIA operative played by Ben Affleck in Argo as he smuggled six diplomatic workers out of Iran. The agency has actually signed Mendez and his wife, Jonna, also an agency veteran. While it’s hard to top a movie about your life that wins the Oscar for Best Picture, the agency obviously believes there are more stories where Argo came from. The agency will rep the duo in film, television and all other media.
Mendez’s Argo experience was a well kept secret until it was declassified, and the couple had other adventures working undercover. UTA will be working closely with the Mendez’s publishing agent and producing partner Christy Fletcher of New York-based Fletcher & Co. to represent the Mendez’s as well as the many declassified stories from their careers. Some of those were chronicled in his book, Master Of Disguise, the first-ever memoir from a top operative to be authorized by the CIA. The couple also wrote Spy Dust, a true-life thriller of how the duo fell in love and married during the last chapter of the Cold War. The Mendez’s, who helped advise the development of the International Spy Museum in Washington DC, continue to train and consult to the agency community.
Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal‘s Zero Dark Thirty, which opened Wednesday, has generated a lot of comment about the realism (or lack of it) in the movie’s depiction of events leading up to the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden. And this afternoon acting director of the CIA Michael Morell issued a statement to employees of the agency that was posted on its website. “Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts”, the statement says. “CIA interacted with the filmmakers through our Office of Public Affairs but, as is true with any entertainment project with which we interact, we do not control the final product.” Read More »
After extremely successful film festival launches in Telluride and Toronto, Warner Bros. thriller and big Oscar hopeful, Argo (10/12), finally hit Hollywood last night with a West Coast premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theatre. And a big postparty bash at the Beverly Hills Hotel pool drew not only the cast and key creatives from the film but also the real people behind the 1979-set Iran hostage drama. They included Tony Mendez, the CIA operative who came up with a novel plan to rescue six American hostages stuck in the Canadian embassy in Tehran by creating a fake Hollywood movie for which they posed as members of the production team. Ben Affleck directs and stars as Mendez in the film which he also produced with Grant Heslov and George Clooney (who initially optioned the material and was originally planning to direct and star himself before he got busy on other projects and Affleck came aboard).
I talked to numerous Academy and HFPA members who were invited and reaction, in a word, was ecstatic. As he was leaving the party, Affleck, getting lots of praise from the crowd, said the reaction made him happy. It should. Warners was smart to specifically invite a big contingent of awards voters and bloggers for the launch. It’s a strategy Harvey Weinstein perfected with his premieres and it makes a statement, ‘we … Read More »