The place in Brooklyn looks like a CIA safehouse. Red brick office building with peeling metal awning. No sign. Inside, writers are plotting out the popular Cold War espionage show “The Americans” — one of an assortment of Hollywood spy and national security dramas being driven by ex-spies.
The show’s creator and co-head writer, Joe Weisberg, is a former CIA officer who never fathomed that he would one day sit in an office with Soviet propaganda posters and a cutout figure of President Ronald Reagan, concocting television fiction.
“When I left the CIA, if you were going to ask me, ‘Would you write about espionage?’ I’d say, ‘Absolutely not. It would be a betrayal,’ ” said Weisberg, 49, a spy-turned-novelist who got tapped by Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles to write television scripts. “I had never heard of CAA before. Now that’s like the CIA to me. It’s this huge thing in my life.”
The career afterlife of a CIA official has typically followed well-known paths: Work for a private military contractor. Launch an “intelligence-driven” LLC. Join a law firm. Consult for the CIA. Write a memoir. But the hunger for espionage on TV and movies in recent years is cracking open new career opportunities for ex-CIA personnel with a flair for drama, the kind that’s less clandestine.