According to Variety, Paul Giamatti is going to play Nikita Khrushchev in the HBO telepic that is presently in the early stages of development.

HBO and Playtone have picked up the rights to the book K Blows Top," by Peter Carlson. It looks at Khrushchev's 13-day visit to America in September 1959. This was a time when Cold War tensions between the world superpowers were very high.

Paul Bernbaum is going to write the script. Playtone's Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are executive producers on this project.

Khrushchev's visit came about because of President Eisenhower. He thought of the visit as a way of settling the dispute between the two superpowers over West Berlin. The formal invitation that was sent to the Communist Party boss left out Eisenhower's condition, that the sides reach a compromise on West Berlin before Khrushchev came to the U.S.

Once here, Khrushchev "famously blew up when he was informed that a planned trip to Disneyland had to be tabled because of security concerns."

Khrushchev and his family visited Washington, D.C.; New York; Hollywood, Calif.; San Francisco and Pittsburgh, Pa.

Nikita Khrushchev and Eisenhower were said to become decent friends while at Camp David, but that stopped a year later with the Francis Gary Powers-U2 spying incident.

Evan Jacobs