Hollywood Reporter Feb 2014 | Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill Reteaming for Atlanta Olympics Drama

Fox has picked up the rights to the Vanity Fair article “The Ballad of Richard Jewell” for the duo to star in and produce.

After teaming up successfully — critically and financially — for The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill are partnering again. This time, they will tell the true story of Richard Jewell, the security guard who went from hero to suspect at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Fox has picked up the rights to the Vanity Fair article The Ballad of Richard Jewell, written by Marie Brenner, for the duo to star in.

DiCaprio will produce the adaptation with his partner Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Hill and Kevin Misher, who initially optioned the material.

Jewell was working as a security guard at the ’96 Summer Games when he discovered a backpack containing pipe bombs, subsequently sounding the alarm and helping to clear the area. However, the bomb did detonate, killing one person and injuring dozens of others.

Initially hailed as a hero, Jewell was soon the prime suspect, as the FBI searched his home twice. A media frenzy painted him as an overweight failed cop and mama’s boy, and he became the punchline for late-night jokes.

After being raked over the coals by the media, Jewell was cleared, but the damage had been done. Lawsuits followed (against NBC and CNN, among several others), and the FBI and other government agencies were forced to make public apologies.

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Philadelphia Inquirer February 2001 | At Spy Hearing, Fbi Director May Be Grilled On Polygraph

Louis Freeh Has Been Reluctant To Use The Test, But He Recommended It For Another Department.

By Lenny Savino INQUIRER WASHINGTON BUREAU

POSTED: February 28, 2001

WASHINGTON — FBI director Louis J. Freeh could face tough questioning today, when the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence examines how an agent accused of spying passed secrets to the Russians for most of his 27-year career without ever having to pass a polygraph test.

At least two of the senators on the committee – Richard Shelby (R., Ala.) and Bob Graham (D., Fla.) – have said the FBI should be polygraphing agents regularly. Freeh is scheduled to testify when the committee holds a closed hearing on the Robert Hanssen case.

Freeh and one of his predecessors, William Webster, have been reluctant to expand the use of polygraphs for spy detection at the FBI.

However, Freeh could find himself in an awkward position since he recommended polygraphs for Department of Energy scientists during the Wen Ho Lee case. Lee was suspected of spying for the Chinese, though he was never charged with espionage; he was charged with 59 counts of mishandling nuclear-weapons secrets. He pleaded guilty to one count, and prosecutors dropped the other charges.

The CIA, National Security Agency and Defense Department have made it a policy to polygraph employees with top-secret clearance every five years.

Hanssen spent much of his FBI career looking for Russian spies. He has been charged with selling 6,000 pages of secrets to the Russians since 1985 for about $1.4 million in cash and diamonds. Hanssen’s attorney said he intended to plead not guilty.

After Hanssen was arrested last week, the Justice Department asked Webster to examine how anyone could have eluded the FBI’s spy catchers.

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Washington Post Feb 2001: Fire Freeh

By Ronald Kessler

At Louis Freeh’s press conference on the espionage arrest of FBI agent Robert P. Hanssen, a reporter asked how much responsibility he accepts for the apparent fact that Hanssen evaded detection by the bureau for 15 years. “Well, the buck stops with me,” Freeh declared. “I’m accountable for it. I’m responsible.”

If failing to adopt agency-wide polygraph testing were Freeh’s only lapse, he could be forgiven. But, under Freeh’s leadership, the FBI has lurched from one debacle to another. In almost every case, Freeh has been personally involved and has often contributed to the fiascoes.

Despite the fact that Freeh’s pal Larry A. Potts was immersed in controversy for mishandling the standoff at Ruby Ridge, where an FBI agent killed an unarmed woman, Freeh promoted Potts to deputy FBI director. When Eugene F. Glenn, head of the FBI’s field office in Salt Lake City, complained that the bureau’s inquiry into the Ruby Ridge case amounted to a coverup, Freeh’s general counsel, Howard M. Shapiro, responded that to raise such charges was “absolutely irresponsible and destructive to the FBI.” That was the mentality that pervaded the bureau under J. Edgar Hoover.

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LA Times March 2001: Panel Demands Answers, Solutions in Spy Case

Senate: Committee questions intelligence heads over how best to prevent future espionage. ‘I don’t think there’s any silver bullet,’ one senator says.

March 01, 2001|ERIC LICHTBLAU | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders on Wednesday demanded to know how the FBI failed to catch a suspected Russian spy in its ranks for 15 years and what steps authorities will take to prevent a recurrence of the worst spy scandal in the agency’s history.

At a three-hour closed-door briefing with the heads of the FBI, the CIA and the Justice Department, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee mulled possible spy-catching remedies that included more aggressive use of polygraph tests, financial audits and computer surveillance of FBI agents to detect suspicious activity, officials said.

Some critics wonder, however, whether the FBI director has gotten a free ride from Congress in the wake of this latest scandal.

In his eight years as director, Freeh has emerged largely unscathed despite a series of controversies that included the FBI’s handling of the Branch Davidian standoff, the Richard Jewell-Olympic bombing investigation, the Wen Ho Lee espionage investigation and now the Hanssen case. He has remained popular among Republicans in large part because he sought an outside counsel to probe campaign fund-raising abuses during the Clinton administration.

Author Ronald Kessler, who wrote a critical column this week about the Hanssen case in the Washington Post under the headline “Fire Freeh,” said in an interview that he believes the FBI director has learned how to control his media image to his advantage. But he said that “when people begin to tie together” the Hanssen case and some of Freeh’s past failings, “I think they’ll start thinking differently about his situation.”
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