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All content tagged: Documents

Spy Culture - 2019-09-07 - Original post - cached version
Captain Phillips tells the story of the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama - a US container ship - off the coast of Somalia, and the subsequent US Navy intervention that killed three of the pirates and arrested the fourth.  It is also one of the least historically accurate films ever made,...
Spy Culture - 2019-09-06 - Original post - cached version
2012's Act of Valor is widely recognised as the terrible, dull, depressing, futile piece of cinema that it surely is, but what is less well-recognised is that it was the brainchild of the US Navy's Special Warfare Recruiting Directorate, and they had a hand in every stage of its production. ...
Spy Culture - 2019-09-05 - Original post - cached version
Lone Survivor is a piece of absolute militaristic schlock, starring the whiny-voiced Marky Mark Wahlberg as Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell - the only survivor of Operation Red Wings, a 2005 special forces joint operation in the summer of 2005.  Over 100 pages of Navy documents show their heavy...
Spy Culture - 2019-09-04 - Original post - cached version
GI Jane is a crude, clumsy attempt to show a 'woman's perspective' on being in the military, that ruined Demi Moore's career as a leading lady.  Little known until now is how the Pentagon negotiated with Ridley Scott to rewrite the script, and even though the film didn't qualify for military...
Spy Culture - 2019-09-03 - Original post - cached version
One issue that comes up repeatedly in the script changes enforced by the Pentagon is war crimes, and other violations of the Geneva Conventions.  As is so often the case I'm left thinking 'if only the DOD applied the same rules to real life wars as they do to the depiction of wars in Hollywood...
Spy Culture - 2019-08-27 - Original post - cached version
I was looking forward to Godzilla: King of the Monsters, having been a fan of giant creature features since I was a young boy.  The blend of massive-scale action and affirming our need to respect nature is a winning combination for me.  Then I watched it, and it was one of the dumbest films I have...
Spy Culture - 2019-08-20 - Original post - cached version
Sometimes the US military's rewriting of scripts is very specific - take out this joke about the US losing in Vietnam, swap this bottle of beer for an energy drink, remove this scene where soldiers set fire to a village and rape all the women. At other times their requested changes are very broad...
Spy Culture - 2019-08-13 - Original post - cached version
Amazon Prime's The Boys is not only the most enjoyable TV show I've seen all year, it's also the most subversive.  While it will appeal to audiences suffering from superhero fatigue after more than a decade of relentless Marvel and DC products, it is so much more than that.  It subverts both...
Spy Culture - 2019-08-10 - Original post - cached version
Co-founder of the Village People and co-writer of 'YMCA', 'Macho Man' and 'In the Navy' Henri Belolo died last saturday at the age of 82.  Born in Casablanca, Belolo was a key member of perhaps the first openly gay disco outfit.  He also participated in one of the funniest co-sponsorship deals the...
Spy Culture - 2019-08-07 - Original post - cached version
The US Army's emails on The Long Road Home show that not everything ran smoothly while filming progressed as Fort Hood.  While all of the information on script input is redacted, one email contains production notes from the Army's project officer Lt Col. Timothy Hyde, warning him to 'keep an eye...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-31 - Original post - cached version
I recently obtained 50 pages of documents from the CIA on the support they provided to Michael Bay's Benghazi movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.  In this investigation for Shadowproof I outline how the relationship between Bay and the Agency started well, how they leaned on Bay to...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-30 - Original post - cached version
The teaser trailer for season 2 of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan depicts John Krasinski as the eponymous hero in a Latin American country where there is an uprising against the government (cough, Venezuela, cough).  Like season 1, I expect the show will be fully supported by the CIA but the DOD rejected...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-25 - Original post - cached version
A story doing the rounds in the last few days claims that the producers of Top Gun: Maverick changed the decals on the back of his leather jacket in order to 'appease Communist China'.  While the story may be true, not a single report has highlighted the much more egregious censorship of the...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-24 - Original post - cached version
The US military's negotiations on the 1980s Clint Eastwood vehicle Heartbreak Ridge were protracted and complex, resulting in numerous changes before the movie could be approved for Pentagon support.  This included changing Clint Eastwood's character from a soldier to a marine after the US Army...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-23 - Original post - cached version
For over a decade the CBS action drama NCIS has enjoyed a very close working relationship with the US military, which allows the entertainment liaison offices to review every script, even for episodes where they provide no support.  This unusual situation nearly fell apart in early 2014 when the...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-18 - Original post - cached version
The US Air Force recently released a tranche of documents on the support they provided to the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man.  This included their Rules of Engagement for companies filming on Edwards Air Force Base, which detail the stringent and at times ludicrous restrictions the Air Force...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-16 - Original post - cached version
Michael Bay is well known for working closely with government agencies when making his films, mostly the Pentagon but also NASA.  Less well known is how he worked with the CIA to vet his script for the Benghazi movie 13 Hours, and how his request to film the CIA's Memorial Wall was turned down by...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-10 - Original post - cached version
The Pentagon’s Film Office file on Heartbreak Ridge is one of the more lengthy and interesting sets of documents.  It tells the story of how the film was rejected by the Army but was supported by the Marine Corps, before being disowned by the DOD after they previewed a rought cut of the movie. ...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-30 - Original post - cached version
The in-development film Raven Four-Two tells the story of a battle in 2005 between insurgents and a Kentucky Army National Guard Military Police Unit, during the war in Iraq.  Documents released by the US Army reveal that the film is being produced by two former Army Public Affairs officers, and...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-26 - Original post - cached version
The US Army's regulations on Public Affairs activities are over 100 pages of rules and restriction governing how the Army interacts with news media, entertainment media and other public events.  It outlines which activities require prior approval from Army Public Affairs chiefs (i.e. most of them...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-24 - Original post - cached version
Just like other government departments the Foreign & Commonwealth Office requires film and TV producers to sign contracts with them to provide production assistance.  The agreement signed with the makers of Downton Abbey includes an interesting clause - they signed up to abide by the...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-21 - Original post - cached version

The Pentagon recently released the Production Assistance Agreement they signed with the producers of Top Gun: Maverick. It details the vast scale of support provided to the film, including turning over command authority to Jerry Bruckheimer, and notes that Navy officials would 'weave in key...

Spy Culture - 2019-06-19 - Original post - cached version
The PRISM Awards are an entertainment industry ceremony that gives out gongs for accurate depictions of substance abuse and mental health problems in films and TV shows.  In 2012 the Pentagon were asked to attend and participate in the awards, which caused quite a stir within the entertainment...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-12 - Original post - cached version
Despite its enormous popularity there are many problems with Breaking Bad - the utterly racist depiction of Mexicans, the glorifying of a sociopathic protagonist and that incredibly boring and pointless fifth season come to mind.  But what has never been discussed before is how the show functions...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-11 - Original post - cached version

The soft reboot of the political drama Designated Survivor recently dropped on Netflix and in spite of Kiefer Sutherland making the least convincing president since Sarah Palin it is a considerable improvement on the first two seasons. What no other critic has noticed is that the CIA...

Spy Culture - 2019-06-07 - Original post - cached version
When James Webb approached the Pentagon to ask for assistance making his Vietnam war drama Fields of Fire he had every right to expect their support.  A former Marine and short-term Secretary of the Navy he was a military veteran who had written his novel based on his own real-life experiences of...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-06 - Original post - cached version
The DOD's directive on working with Hollywood says that they can provide production assistance if it is deemed 'in the best interest of the Nation', but as with all their criteria for deciding whether to give support the Pentagon interpret this very broadly.  They use the considerable influence...
Spy Culture - 2019-06-03 - Original post - cached version
When the producers of Clear and Present Danger approached the Pentagon to ask for military support they probably weren't expecting 6 months of script negotiations to get their film into a shape deemed acceptable by the entertainment liaison offices.  Documents from the DOD show how their concerns...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-30 - Original post - cached version
The relationship between intelligence agencies and the entertainment industry is complex and multi-faceted.  Angles include the influence of the agencies on their own public image, the influence of entertainment on the agencies, and intelligence-gathering by those agencies on the culture industry...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-28 - Original post - cached version
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently released nearly 200 pages of contracts between themselves and entertainment producers, which for the first time shed light on how they interact with Hollywood. The documents reveal that the DEA has been quite active in the entertainment industry,...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-24 - Original post - cached version
In 2014 the Washington Post's Adam Goldman published a story about the CIA producing dolls of Osama bin Laden as part of an influence operation designed to diminish the former Al Qaeda's leader's popularity in the Middle East.  The dolls would be made so the paint on the eyes would easily rub off...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-21 - Original post - cached version
1988's The Presidio wanted to film at the real Presidio in San Francisco, an Army installation.  As per usual this required a full military script review, but the DOD responded demanding a 'complete rewrite' before they would approve access to the base.  The resulting film bears little resemblance...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-15 - Original post - cached version
In 1998 retired FBI deputy director Cartha DeLoach was asked by the producers of The X-Files to review the script for an episode of the show that was set in the 1950s.  The FBI recently released DeLoach's response to the producers, where he branded the script 'very entertaining but Sophmorish',...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-08 - Original post - cached version
The 2005 biographical war film Jarhead is one of a very small number of films set in the first Gulf War.  Despite being based on the autobiography of a Marine who served in Desert Storm the DOD refused to provide it with military support.  But how can a film based on a first-hand account not meet...
Spy Culture - 2019-05-02 - Original post - cached version
The Superman reboot Man of Steel launched the (now abandoned) DC Extended Universe, and put a much darker tinge on the Superman franchise than any previous incarnation, especially the Christopher Reeve classics.  Man of Steel benefited from large-scale support from the military, but hidden until...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-30 - Original post - cached version
In 1977 the producers of Superman and Superman II approached the Pentagon to try to obtain stock footage of missiles launching, for use in depicting Lex Luthor's dastardly plot to nuke the San Andreas fault.  The Air Force and Strategic Air Command were provided with copies of the script in order...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-25 - Original post - cached version
In my latest article for Shadowproof I examine the FBI's role in the Mark Felt biopic Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.  Using documents obtained under FOIA and an interview with Ed Gray, the son of FBI acting director Pat Gray (who is depicted in Mark Felt) I reveal the film's...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-24 - Original post - cached version
The 2010 thriller Unthinkable courted controversy by depicting the torture of a suspected terrorist who claims to have planted nuclear bombs in three US cities. Despite a strong cast including Samuel L Jackson, Carrie-Ann Moss and Stephen Root it was released direct-to-video and lost money....
Spy Culture - 2019-04-23 - Original post - cached version
Deep Impact is one of a pair of twin films released in 1998 that were based around a giant meteor colliding with earth. The film and its twin, the more successful Armageddon, were both supported by NASA and the Department of Defense. Inevitably, this meant script changes to fit in with the...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-16 - Original post - cached version
The post-WW2 period was the zenith for military and war movies - over 200 were made in the 1950s, and the same in the 1960s.  According to an entry in the DOD's Hollywood database they provided support to every major military movie for over a decade, putting an entire genre of film in their sphere...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-11 - Original post - cached version
Production assistance agreements released by the Defense Department show the United States military used taxpayer money to subsidize part of the production of the National Geographic series, “The Long Road Home,” and a companion documentary.

(Read more...)

Spy Culture - 2019-04-05 - Original post - cached version
Little Mizz Innocent has been languishing in development hell for several years as the 'female Jason Bourne movie' has struggled to get into production. It tells the story of a UN interpreter 'caught in a power struggle between the FBI and a criminal dynasty'. FBI emails released under FOIA...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-03 - Original post - cached version
The production of Ice Station Zebra is a great case study in just how much influence the Pentagon can have over a movie script.  The initial script - by multi-Oscar winning writer Paddy Chayefsky - was rejected by the DOD for being too politically critical and culturally subversive.  In the midst...
Spy Culture - 2019-03-28 - Original post - cached version
In late 2009 the FBI got wind of the fact that Martin Scorcese was developing The Wolf of Wall Street, about stock fraudster turned federal cooperator Jordan Belfort.  So the Bureau's Michael Kortan wrote to Scorcese to offer their help and support in producing the film, noting that 'all...
Spy Culture - 2019-03-25 - Original post - cached version
Top Gun was an enormous critical and commercial success and helped redefine the military-supported movie.  It is not quite a war film, because there's no war and only a handful of people are killed.  It isn't a history or biopic because all the characters are fictional.  It isn't a drama because...
Spy Culture - 2019-03-22 - Original post - cached version
The US military, particularly the Air Force, invested a lot of time and resources in helping make Captain Marvel, and so far they are happy with the return on that investment.  Yesterday, an article on Military.com celebrated Captain Marvel as 'the film girls need' and 'one the military community...
Spy Culture - 2019-03-21 - Original post - cached version
The 1968 spy and counterspy classic Ice Station Zebra was inspired by a real life event during the CIA/Air Force Corona spy satellite program.  In April 1959 the satellite Discoverer 2 became the first to send a recovery capsule containing satellite surveillance imagery back to earth, but there...
Spy Culture - 2019-03-18 - Original post - cached version
Of all the many, many, many projects the Pentagon has supported, one of the most surprising and seemingly innocent is the mid-century TV series of Dennis the Menace.  In one episode 'Dennis at Boot Camp' the producers asked for permission for three days filming at the Naval Training Center in San...
Spy Culture - 2019-03-16 - Original post - cached version
In early 1977 the producers of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes approached the Pentagon about filming a couple of brief scenes at National Guard armories.  Even though the National Guard Public Affairs staff thought it was a fun film and were happy to help, they were overruled by the Pentagon's Don...

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