by Del Harvey
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Considering our country’s current activities in the politics of other nations, there could not be a better time for this mini-series. It gives us a dramatized accounting of the formative era of the Cold War; formative because of the emergence of the CIA as a player in the arena of world politics, and the maneuvering by the U.S. government as a controlling factor in the lives and developments of foreign cultures.
TNT’s summer blockbuster mini-series, The Company, is the story of the Cold War from its beginnings in the early 1950s to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, to the Bay of Pigs fiasco in the 1960s and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. We see the story as told from the perspectives of the foot soldiers involved: those “faceless” agents of the CIA and the KGB. This impressive three-week television event stars a formidable international cast headed by Chris O’Donnell (Scent of a Woman, Grey’s Anatomy), Alfred Molina (Frida, The Da Vinci Code, Spider-Man 2) and Michael Keaton (Live from Baghdad, Beetlejuice). This mini-series will be shown on TNT and was co-produced by Sony Pictures Television and acclaimed executive producers Ridley Scott (Gladiator), Tony Scott (Man on Fire), John Calley (The Da Vinci Code); and co-executive producers David W. Zucker (Numb3rs) and David A. Rosemont (Into the West). The series will debut in August in two-hour installments over three consecutive Sundays, with the Sunday, August 5, premiere being presented with limited commercial interruption, sponsored by Ford and Quiznos. In addition, a special 10-part broadband series Spy Toys of the CIA, hosted by O’Donnell, will be available at tnt.tv beginning Friday, July 13.
Directed by Emmy winner Mikael Salomon (Band of Brothers, TNT’s Salem’s Lot) and adapted by Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down) from the best-selling historical novel by Robert Littell, The Company follows a game played over four decades, from the rainy streets of Berlin to the shores of Cuba, from secret revolutionary gatherings in Budapest to high-level meetings in the halls of Washington and Moscow. The chessboard is the entire globe, with pieces being moved and counter-moved carefully to try to gain advantage in the standoff between two super powers. In the end, the primary casualties were felt on the national and personal level by both willing participants and innocent bystanders.
Each night of The Company has a unique tone, with Night 1 presenting the early years of the CIA during the Cold War as a taut espionage thriller set mostly on the streets of East and West Berlin, where the cat-and-mouse games between the CIA and the KGB begin. Night 2 is an action thriller, with the primary focus placed on two violent and tragic events: the Hungarian uprising of 1956, which was quashed by massive Soviet involvement, and the Bay of Pigs, in which Cuban rebels attempted to oust Castro from power. And Night 3 is a complex psychological thriller, with the CIA desperately searching within its own ranks for a KGB mole who has been undermining CIA missions for decades.
Like recent major motion pictures Breach and The Good Shepherd, The Company is a fascinating and more detailed glimpse into the inner workings of that darkly serious agency, the CIA. Save your Sunday nights, because you won’t want to miss it.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly. He teaches screenwriting, makes and reviews films in Chicago.
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