Get the popcorn ready, Washington: L’Affair de Petraeus is heading to the small screen. Producers are planning a series based on the memoir of Jill Kelley, a confidante to former CIA director, Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned in 2012 when it was revealed that he had been having an affair with his biographer.
Kelley, a prominent Tampa hostess who moved in the social circles of military brass, was at the center of the controversy. It became public after Petraeus’s apparently jealous mistress began sending Kelley anonymous emails; the FBI investigation led to the outing of the affair. And now the tale is getting the TV treatment, courtesy of producers Ron Senkowski and Michael De Luca (whose credits include “The Social Network” and “Moneyball”), who bought the rights to Kelley’s book “Collateral Damage: Petraeus, Power, Politics and the Abuse of Privacy.”
In an interview, Kelley said the story needs little Hollywood-style embellishment, so it was no wonder that shortly after publishing it, she got plenty of film offers. (She inked the deal with Senkowski and DeLuca after a chance poolside meeting at the Beirut Four Seasons, natch.) “You really don’t even need to dramatize it — it’s already got everything from backstabbing to ego trips,” she said — not to mention the Holy Trinity of scripted drama: power, sex and money.
But steamy storylines and thriller-worthy plot points aside, she sees it as a cautionary tale about the perils of government surveillance. “You can see the harm that can be caused when the government collects the emails of innocent American citizens,” said Kelley, who sued the FBI and the Defense Department for leaking her name to reporters following their investigation.
“The narrative is particularly salient right now, and it really resonates with audiences because we see it still happening,” she said.
As for the reaction to the news that the saga may wind up on prime time? Kelley said she hasn’t spoken to Petraeus (with whom she said she remains friends, though they don’t see one another as regularly as before) but has chatted with other military brass, who she said are having fun with the idea. “I’ve spoken to other commanders — and their response has mostly been ‘so, who’s going to play me?'” she said.