LOS ANGELES — In a follow-up to his recent 9/11 drama “World Trade Center,” filmmaker Oliver Stone plans to direct a movie about the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and hunt for Osama bin Laden, Paramount Pictures said Monday.
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The film will be based in part on “Jawbreaker,” a recent book chronicling the U.S.-led assault on the al Qaeda stronghold in eastern Afghanistan’s Tora Bora region, a spokeswoman for Paramount, the studio behind the project, told Reuters.
Stone and Paramount, which released “World Trade Center” in August, optioned rights to “Jawbreaker” months ago, she said, confirming a report in the Hollywood trade paper Daily Variety. Paramount is a unit of Viacom Inc.
The Oscar-winning director told Variety the book deal was kept quiet until now to prevent “World Trade Center” from being caught up in controversy surrounding the memoir, which suggests the U.S. military bungled a chance to get bin Laden.
“World Trade Center” largely avoided political overtones by focusing on heroics of two cops — played by Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena — who became trapped in the rubble of the Twin Towers after hijackers crashed airliners into the buildings.
Stone called it “the least political film I’ve made.” And he insisted his objective with “Jawbreaker” similarly would be to “create compelling drama, not a polemic.”
But the subject matter is bound to spark debate about the Bush administration’s conduct of its war on terror, especially if the movie ends up being released in 2008 before the next presidential election.
No production date for the film has been set, and there was no word on casting decisions.
The book was written by Gary Bernsten, a decorated CIA officer who led the so-called “Jawbreaker” paramilitary unit that helped topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Among his more controversial assertions is that bin Laden was present at Tora Bora during the U.S.-led assault on the region in 2001 but managed to slip away.
Slideshow: The week in celebrity sightings Bernsten wrote that Jawbreaker could have killed or captured bin Laden if military officials had agreed to his request for 800 more U.S. troops that were never sent.
His account contradicted public statements by President Bush and retired Army Gen. Tommy Franks, former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, that U.S. officials were never certain bin Laden was at Tora Bora.
Stone drew sharp criticism for his 1991 film “JFK,” in which he was accused of giving credence to widely debunked conspiracy theories in his portrait of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Adding potential fuel to the fire is Stone’s choice of Cyrus Nowrasteh, the producer-writer behind ABC’s controversial miniseries “The Path to 9/11,” to write the second draft of the ”Jawbreaker” screenplay.
Nowrasteh came under fire last month from leading Democrats who claimed the ABC miniseries was filled with inaccuracies and distortions that painted the Clinton administration as slow to confront the threat of Islamic militants prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.
Nowrasteh also wrote and directed the TV movie “The Day Reagan was Shot,” which Stone executive-produced.
Stone earned his two Academy Awards as best director for his work on a pair of Vietnam War-themed movies, “Platoon” and “Born on the Fourth of July.”
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