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
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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