Panetta had to make do with James Gandolfini. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)


“I hope they get Pacino to play [Leon Panetta]. That’s what he wants, no joke.”


— George Little, a public affairs aide to the then-CIA chief, in an email to Pentagon spokesman Douglas Wilson — part of a trove of correspondence about the administration’s cooperation in the making of “Zero Dark Thirty” compiled in a Defense Department report and released by the federal watchdog Project on Government Oversight. No surprise about the casting advice — Panetta has since said the same thing publicly; now we know he wasn’t joking. Bigger revelation of the emails: That screenwriter Mark Boal was allowed to attend a secret CIA ceremony where Panetta divulged the name of the Bin Laden operation commander and other top-secret details. Otherwise, according to the L.A. Times, the report reveals how Boal & Co. got access in the Beltway “by buttering up government officials eager to see their roles immortalized on the big screen.”

Earlier:‘Zero Dark Thirty’ screening in Washington with Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow subdued by torture debate, 1/9/13

More Reliable Source: Mark Sanford; Textile Museum; Hillwood gala; Pippa Middleton; Michelle Obama; Erika Harold