Tags: Homeland | Security | Looks | Hollywood

Homeland Security Looks to Hollywood

Wednesday, 09 March 2005 12:00 AM

Once a script or concept passes muster, Ferguson will offer advice and technical help to the directors, producers and actors – hopefully nudging then to portray the homeland defenders in a positive light.

Predictably, however, detractors have already gathered to pan the initiative.

One such critic, Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense, points to the expense, arguing the department should rivet its focus on securing the nation's vulnerable infrastructure — not its reputation.

"Agencies pay for public relations and spin to make the public like them more, but it doesn't mean it's a good expenditure," Ashdown says.

But critics aside, Ferguson reveals that demand for her services is high - fighting terrorism is currently a hot theme in the entertainment industry. "I've had dozens and dozens of inquiries," says Ferguson. "It's always been a topic they've been interested in, but more so now."

Already, the department has worked with the producers of last year's The Terminal, in which Tom Hanks portrays an immigrant stranded at JFK airport in New York. Also the recent beneficiary of the Hollywood liaison touch: the TV shows CSI: Miami and NCIS.

Such practice of image-burnishing has been long de rigor with some half-dozen other government agencies. Paramount is the Department of Defense, which has had an active entertainment office since it was created in 1947. It's that office which accounts for most of the ubiquitous footage of planes, ships and other equipment in Hollywood productions. Author David Robb in "Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies," has unflatteringly pictured the Pentagon's office as a propaganda machine that inveigles Hollywood into showing the military only in a positive light.

But Phil Strub, who runs the Pentagon's office, challenges the notion that the military interferes with the creative process: "If this was so coercive and onerous, why would people keep coming back?"

In addition to the main Pentagon office, each branch of the military has its own Hollywood office in Los Angeles.

According to Strub, the various military arms have a vital interest in nudging Hollywood to the more glamorous side of uniformed service – it helps with recruitment, the tool that keeps the all-volunteer forces manned and ready.

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Once a script or concept passes muster, Ferguson will offer advice and technical help to the directors, producers and actors - hopefully nudging then to portray the homeland defenders in a positive light. Predictably, however, detractors have already gathered to pan...
Homeland,Security,Looks,Hollywood
366
2005-00-09
Wednesday, 09 March 2005 12:00 AM
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