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THE SIEGE

About The Production
For producer Lynda Obst, THE SIEGE has been a driving passion since she read two series of articles written by reporter Tim Weiner, covering the CIA beat for The New York Times

For producer Lynda Obst, THE SIEGE has been a driving passion since she read two series of articles written by reporter Tim Weiner, covering the CIA beat for The New York Times. "I come from the newspaper business," says Obst, a former editor for Rolling Stone and The New York Times Magazine, "and this film, more than any other I've produced, resulted from my journalistic background."

Weiner's story about a female CIA agent provided the initial inspirational spark for the producer. "Every time you give me an interesting woman in action, in an exciting adventure, I'm hooked," Obst relates. Additional inspiration came from Weiner's pieces about the tentative relationship between the CIA and the FBI and the agencies' efforts to coordinate their responses to potential acts of terrorism.

Obst optioned the articles and developed several drafts of a screenplay with Lawrence Wright, a nonfiction writer for The New Yorker. When Edward Zwick joined the project as producer and director, he and writer Menno Meyjes re-worked the story.

"Ed and I liked the material's verisimilitude," Obst explains. "Putting America through what Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beirut, Paris, London and Athens have all experienced are consequential, terrifying and important things to imagine. THE SIEGE ponders the imponderable, and explores how our society might cope with such a scenario."

Even before joining THE SIEGE, Zwick had for several years considered a project with similar themes and issues of a real-life terrorist incident in our country.

"I followed the investigation of the World Trade Center bombing," Zwick recalls. "It was deeply upsetting that there was a sophisticated terrorist cell within the United States that was capable of doing what it did."

Through his previous films, "Glory" and the Gulf War drama "Courage Under Fire," Zwick had the opportunity to work with various military, law enforcement and political agencies, all of which proved useful in his research for THE SIEGE. "I learned," he says, "that the events of the World Trade Center had sent a tidal wave of action through the various branches of law enforcement. I also discovered that contingency plans already existed for this kind of problem."

Around this time, two other significant events occurred which piqued Zwick's interest in the subject of terrorism and government/military response: Congress passed the new counter-terrorism statutes which gave more latitude to wire-tapping and surveillance in emergency situations; and in Brooklyn, another terrorist cell was discovered and taken down by the FBI. Zwick also read with interest about the phenomenon of "blowback," a phrase used in the intelligence community to describe how some of the U.S.'s international activities could have repercussions domestically.

"The more I talked to various officials and experts," Zwick explains, "the more the issue was raised of the very thin line that exists between the civil rights of an individual and the premises of a free society - and the obligations of law enforcement when confronting something as difficult to stop as terrorism. I also researched how other world capitals were dealing with terrorism, all of which end up asking the same question: does one have to become a monster in order to fight a monster? And I suddenly realized that within the

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