Hollywood licks its lips at tale of 'Stalingrad stunner'

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The Independent Culture

The tale of Anna Chapman, the so-called "Stalingrad stunner" who slept, shopped and schmoozed her way across London and New York's wealthiest postcodes before being arrested this week as an alleged Russian spy, is so tailor-made for Hollywood that if it didn't already exist, they'd have to make it up.

Granted, the red-headed femme fatale seems better suited to a 1990s Austin Powers spoof than today's slickly produced spy capers. And her modus operandi, with its letter drops and secret codes, recalls a Cold War-era James Bond movie.

But nothing screams "hit movie" like a real-life thriller involving international espionage and attractive young people whose everyday lives conceal a dark secret, and the US entertainment industry has wasted little time in sizing-up Ms Chapman's Hollywood prospects. Scarlett Johansson would be the obvious first choice, followed perhaps by Kirsten Dunst, or Jessica Biel.

"[The] story has 'blockbuster' written all over it," was the verdict of celebrity publicist Peggy Siegal, who was quoted in a front page article about potential spy-ring movies in yesterday's Los Angeles Times. "Sandra Bullock in a red wig!"

The alleged conspiracy would fit into an obvious tradition. "In the aftermath of 9/11, there's been focus on [secret] agents who look different from us," said Paul Levinson, the chair of media studies at Fordham University regarding Hollywood's enduring obsession with spy stories. "When it's also the girl next door, well, that's a great story we just can't put down."

Ms Chapman is in custody, facing charges that carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. When she gets out, she'll be free to sell her story and market the film rights. And whatever happens, she boasts strong potential as a reality television star.

"The Anna Chapman story, as reported, plays out like a Hollywood script," said Jacquie Jordan, an LA media consultant and television producer. "I think part of the drama of the story is that it's too unbelievable. You say to yourself, "really?"... [but] if the elements turn out to be false, then she always has a second career in reality TV."

Screenwriters for any biopic already have their best lines written for them. Take the 28-year-old's Facebook page. "Pain is only weakness leaving the body," reads one of her status updates. "If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it," reads another. "The moon is amazing tonight in New York," goes a third. All an actor needs to do, to make those lines into movie gold, is develop a suitably-throaty Russian drawl.

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