"DiCaprio also continues to be keenly interested in starring in the screen version of Bombshell: The Secret Story of Americas Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy. DiCaprio became aligned with the book last year (Daily Variety, Sept. 16, 1997) to play Theodore Hall, the wiz kid biophysicist who helped developed the atom bomb and gave the recipe to the Soviets because he felt it would ensure neither would use it. The Mighty scribe Chuck Leavitt was recently hired to adapt the book by Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel, published last fall by Times Books/Random House."
Order your own copy of the documentary (AAE-40467,
$19.95, 50 min.)
A documentary about Ted Hall titled "The Boy Who Gave Away the Bomb" aired at 9 p.m. on August 6th on The History's Channel's "In Search of History" series. The hour-long program, produced by Triage Entertainment, included interviews with Joe Albright and Marcia Kunstel, authors of Bombshell, Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs (who pieced together Hall's identity from clues in the Venona documents), former FBI agent Robert McQueen (who almost nabbed Hall in the early fifties), historian Allen Weinstein, and one of the NSA agents involved in cracking the Soviet's secret diplomatic code.
The Story of The Boy Who Gave Away the
But there was at least one other atom spy within the Manhattan Project. Ted Hall was a brilliant teen-age scientist and he gave the Soviets far more than the Rosenbergs, and did it earlier than Fuchs.
Recruited from Harvard, Hall was a committed communist who believed the atomic bomb was too terrible and powerful a weapon to be left in the hands of the U.S. alone. He decided it had to be shared with Russia.
The Soviets checked the data Ted Hall gave them against information also supplied by physicist Klaus Fuchs. With both Hall and Fuchs independently corroborating each other, the Soviets were confident the information was good - so good that they built their own bomb in less than four years -- perhaps 10 years sooner than if Hall and Fuchs had not been traitors.
Security officials who had broken the Soviet's code gave Hall's name to the FBI. But agents couldn't build a case without revealing that the Russian code had been broken. Lacking any other evidence, FBI agent Robert McQueen was forced to close down his investigation. Hall slipped away. Now he's in his 70s, resides in Britain, and remains unrepentant.
When the NSA declassified and released data about the breaking of the code forty years earlier, Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs figured out the spy code-named "Mlad" must be Hall -- and flew to England to confront him.
Former Cox News Service correspondents Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel spent three years sifting through declassified Russian and U.S. documents for their book about Hall, Bombshell.
After his past became public knowledge, Hall released a careful statement about his actions that pretty much admits to what dozens of witnesses have alleged. But he still fears prosecution and will not say 'I did it.' He does hint, however, that his actions contributed to the creation of a balance of nuclear power between East and West that may have preserved world peace for half a century.
Webmaster's Note: Thanks to Jonathan Jerald, Co-Producer, "The Boy Who Gave Away the Bomb" (Visit The History Channel Online.)
From Final paragraph of "People" magazine cover story entitled "Titanic's Leonardo DiCaprio: Hollywood's Hottest New Star" (Jan. 26, 1998):
"His next project is reported to be BOMBSHELL, the true story of a young physicist who leaked atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. In the meantime DiCaprio plans to take a long break and eventually travel a bit until the hoopla subsides."
From Daily Variety, September 16,
1997, Page 1
Leonardo DiCaprio has agreed to play Theodore Hall, the most influential yet least known man of the 20th century. DiCaprio is attached to star in the screen version of "Bombshell: The Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy".
The upcoming book by Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel will be published this fall by Times Books/Random House. Hall is the genius teenage biophysicist who was the youngest participant in the development of the atomic bomb; he also passed highly classified data to the Soviet Union. Some say he was singlehandedly responsible for causing the Cold War.
Surprisingly, while Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for a similar treason, Hall and his co-conspirator, Saville Sax, got away with it until 1995, when their names were uncovered in Soviet intelligence messages released by the National Security Agency. Their identities were sniffed out by the authors, who were Moscow-based newspaper correspondents.
The book was optioned by Addis/Wechsler, with Nick Wechsler, Julia Chasman, Rick Yorn, George DiCaprio and Mary Salter signed up to produce. Salter, who has partnered on projects with Meryl Streep, showed the book to the actress, who suggested her "Marvin's Room" co-star as the perfect candidate to play the boy genius.
Salter then brought it to Yorn, DiCaprio's manager at Addis-Wechsler, who got the process started with George DiCaprio, Leonardo's father. CAA's Kevin Huvane is repping the package, and they're in talks with an A-list director. Once the lenser is aboard, they'll shop the project to studios. As turncoats go, this one is a lot different than the notorious CIA traitor, Aldrich Ames, whose story is being done by Fox 2000.
Ames benefitted financially for giving up Soviet-based U.S. spies to be killed. Hall never took a penny and gave away perhaps the most valuable espionage secrets the Soviets ever obtained.
He did it, he claims now, because he felt that if such a powerful weapon remained in the hands of one side, the lack of nuclear parity increased the chances that one might actually be set off. Now 71, ill and living in London, Hall is trying to somewhat change the perception of his place in history.
DiCaprio, who'll next be seen starring in James Cameron's "Titanic", recently wrapped dual starring roles in "The Main in the Iron Mask". He's currently shooting a movie for Woody Allen, and is attached to another true story, "The Inside Man", a film being written and to be directed by Michael Mann.
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