Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Joe Weisberg ’87: super spy

Yale professors Ivo Banac and Wolfgang Leonhard turned Joe Weisberg ’87 into a cold warrior. But several years in the CIA taught him that real spy life is less exciting than fiction.

So Weisberg turned to fiction—but he bases it on real life. The Russian spies known as Cynthia and Richard Murphy posed for years as a typical American suburban couple before their arrests in 2010. Only time will tell whether The Americans, Weisberg's TV series about KGB spies living in suburban DC, will last as long. But this week, FX announced that it will renew the show for a third season.

The show, of which Weisberg is creator and executive producer, also stirred some controversy recently by hiring Oliver North to consult on a story line paralleling the Iran-contra scandal in which North played a lead role.

“The show itself is not looking to settle history,” Weisberg tells the New York Times. “The show is a dramatic exploration of these characters, and it’s certainly looking to challenge people to look at the past through new prisms.”

Meanwhile the New York Observer, profiling the actor who plays troubled FBI agent Sam Beeman, calls The Americans “the single best show on television.” That actor? Weisberg's classmate Noah Emmerich ’87.


The Yale Alumni Magazine is published by Yale Alumni Publications Inc., an alumni-based nonprofit that is not run by Yale University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration.

Filed under Joe Weisberg, Noah Emmerich, The Americans, Oliver North
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