• The Special Program
  • Debora Cahn
  • Black List No Manager 2013 Top Drama
  • 78.5
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Details
Market December 16, 2013    Sold December 16, 2013
Producer Paula Weinstein, Jeffrey Levine
Agent Craig Brody (CAA)
Production Spring Creek
11/21/2014: Project is no longer set up at The Weinstein Company.
Loglines
The true story of Jack Goldsmith, a young attorney who took charge of the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel, then courageously took on Vice President Cheney and his powerful inner circle when he discovered they were running a number of illegal activities through their so-called “Special Program”.
The true story of attorney Jack Goldsmith's struggle to reform Vice President Dick Cheney's illegal surveillance and torture commissions code named, " The Special Program."
The true story of one lawyer hired onto Dick Cheney's staff, who must decide to defy his superiors and reveal the truth about Cheney's special program.
The true story of an average lawyer who sets out to deauthorize Dick Cheney’s program which allows spying on American citizens without warrants.
Format
Genres
Drama, Political, War, Conspiracy, Cop/FBI/CIA, Corruption, Espionage/Spy, Film, Mainstream (studio), Terrorist
Pages
124
Rated
PG-13
Budget
Medium
Lead
M White 35 Average
Similar
All the President's Men, W., The Spy Factory, Ides of March
When
September 11, 2001 and several days following, the majority in the Spring of 2003 and four days in 2004/Four years
Where
85% in Washington DC. September, 2001: White House Bunker, Air Force One, Memorial Bridge, White House Corridor, Cheney’s Office, State Department, various offices, Roosevelt Room Spring 2003: offices, restaurant, Apartment on Capitol Hill, White House Gate, Camp David, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Pennsylvania Avenue, hallways, command center, National Security Agency, Car, Constitution Avenue 2004: White House, Situation Room, corridor, offices, conference room, office at the CIA, a courtyard, a greenroom, Washington streets, a limo, Jack’s house, Comey’s car, Jack’s car, hospital, restaurant, Cheney’s house, hospital room

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Synopsis
On September 11, 2001 in Washington DC, DICK CHENEY (Adult), SCOOTER LIBBY (Adult) and CONDOLEEZA RICE (Adult) are evacuated into a bunker. CHENEY orders a MILITARY AIDE (Adult), to engage an aircraft approaching Washington. Cheney talks on the phone with Bush, who is on Air Force One, and gets his permission to engage, even though Cheney already sent the command. Bush is with ANDY CARD (Adult), his legal counsel. Cheney orders DAVID ADDINGTON (Adult), a legal counselor, to figure out what powers the president is going to need now that they’re at war with a terrorist organization. JOHN ASHCROFT (Adult), Attorney General, and PATRICK PHILBIN (Adult), Associate Deputy Attorney General, draft up a document. Cheney presents it to Bush, who agrees and Cheney meets with GEORGE TENET (Adult), CIA director, and NSA director, MICHAEL HAYDEN (Adult), who suggest it’s not legal but Cheney doesn’t care. JOHN YOO (Adult), an attorney, hires JACK GOLDSMITH (Adult), an unkempt lawyer, as a legal counselor. Jack has two small children and lives in a tiny apartment with his wife LESLIE (Adult). Addington shows Jack “The Stellar Wind” document which allows the NSA to monitor terrorists domestically. Jack is appalled that the document grants the...
Reader 1 Comments
Overall (4)
"The Special Program is a tightly written political procedural that focuses on the true story of Jack Goldsmith's, Head of the Office of Legal Counsel, uncovering and rewriting of Dick Cheney's illegal "Special Program." Based on true events, the conflict resonates within the fiction and real world escalating to a satisfying and informative climax. The characters' relationships to each other are nuanced adding levels of tension and suspense to a piece that lacks physical action. Structurally, it effortlessly jumps years at a time while sustaining suspense through a few days over the course of 30 pages. "The Special Program" takes a dry setting and energizes it well with tension, conflict, and philosophical questions of politics....
Reader 2 Comments
OVERALL (3)
Jack Goldsmith is inducted into Dick Cheney's small group of government officials after the height of 911, and finds that the program, known as "Stellar Wind", approves the government ability to access every personal and private form of communication in every household in America. Jack digs deep to shut down the program after finding out Cheney went over the heads of many of the Presidents officials to legalize the program. The premise, although seemingly exciting, lacks a lot of action. Its very stoic. The truth and factuality is extremely accurate, however the overall delivery comes off as dull. The structure is strong, and hits each major beat. The dialogue is a bit long winded, and there tends to be repetitive information. The craft is strong and informative, and is extremely well formatted. The logic is strong, and accurate to the actual events seceding 9/11....
Reader 3 Comments
OVERALL (3)
Jack Goldsmith, an average lawyer and family man, is hired as a legal counselor in the White House. But when he receives a copy of the "Stellar Wind" document, which allows unencrypted spying by the National Security Agency, Jack fights to stop the executive order. This interesting premise with built-in conflict fits into a traditional structure model with precision. While the characters have clear goals, stronger arcs and internal conflict could be developed more fully. While the dialogue is lean, it could benefit from more nuance. Nearly perfect from typos, there could be more visual description employed. With a strong re-write, this solid and fresh narrative could have spectacular potential....