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All content tagged: Entertainment Liaison Offices

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 - 2019-07-28 - Original post - cached version
The relationship between government liaison offices and the entertainment industry usually works well, resulting in added production value for the industry’s products and the furtherance of the government’s agendas. But sometimes things go wrong. This week we look at what happens when the...
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 - 2019-07-21 - Original post - cached version
NCIS is a wildly successful TV drama, one of the most popular series of the last 20 years. This week I recount how the DOD, Navy and Marine Corps routinely rewrite episodes of NCIS to fit their PR and propaganda goals. I look at why the relationship between the producers and the military nearly...
Spy Culture - 2019-07-19 - Original post - cached version
Tom Cruise dropped into San Diego Comic-Con this week to premiere the trailer for Top Gun: Maverick, which is nothing short of a fan service nostalgia reel and some cheesy dialogue about how Maverick is still - you've guessed it - a Maverick.  All indications are that it will be a soft reboot of...
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 - 2019-07-10 - 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 - 2019-06-26 - 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 - 2019-06-21 - 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 - 2019-06-03 - 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 - 2019-05-21 - 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 - 2019-05-08 - 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 - 2019-05-06 - Original post - cached version
Superman is one of the world’s most recognisable cultural icons. A symbol of human idealism, he has been subject to a range of political and philosophical agendas over the last 80 years. This week I analyse the ideas behind Superman, and how they have manifested and changed throughout the course...
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 - 2019-04-21 - Original post - cached version
While it is now considered a Cold War classic Ice Station Zebra was a flop when it was first released. This week, I review Ice Station Zebra and analyse the development of the film, how it differs quite radically from the book, and why the DOD rejected an early version of the script, leading to a...
Spy Culture - 2019-04-11 - Original post - cached version
One of the veterans of the ambush in Sadr City in April 2004 has revealed that National Geographic's film The Long Road Home is a shameful piece of propaganda that butchers history and ignored offers of help from the squad who were actually in the firefight in order to present a bastardised and...
Spy Culture - 2019-03-26 - Original post - cached version
Word about the entertainment liaison offices continues to spread - The Statist Quo podcast recently did a focus episode on the DOD's film office, Phil Strub and the rewriting of movie scripts.  Hosted by Matt, a US Army veteran and ex-convict, the episode focuses in on Black Hawk Down and also...
Spy Culture - 2019-03-11 - Original post - cached version
Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous for many things – being Mr Universe, The Terminator, the Governator and Commando.  Now he’s trying to add one more to the list – unofficial military entertainment liaison.  The USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy recently hosted a workshop to...
Spy Culture - 2019-02-28 - Original post - cached version
The US Army provided extensive support to the National Geographic film series The Long Road Home, supposedly to ensure it depicted the real-life battle of Sadr City in a 'reasonably realistic' way. But Army emails that I obtained under FOIA show they were more concerned with the fact that a...
Spy Culture - 2019-02-10 - Original post - cached version
In this month's subscriber-only podcast I explore several DOD-supported films and the files on them from the Lawrence Suid archive. Focusing in on Air Force One, Deep Impact, The Final Countdown, Firefox and BAT-21 I outline the script changes forced on the film-makers in exchange for military...
Spy Culture - 2019-02-02 - Original post - cached version
Missy Peregrym and Zeeko Zaki, two of the stars of the CBS drama FBI were asked about the government shutdown this week, and responded with a statement that sounds like it was written by the FBI's Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit. They talked about the FBI doing everything in its...
Spy Culture - 2019-01-20 - Original post - cached version
I recently found out that Strub retired from his job as the DOD’s Hollywood liaison last July, though this wasn’t covered by any news outlets and the DOD didn’t bother to tell anyone. In this episode I go through some of Strub’s greatest hits – the good, the bad and the ugly, looking at script...
Spy Culture - 2019-01-16 - Original post - cached version
The National Geographic drama series The Long Road Home tells a version of the story of the battle for Sadr City in 2004, a key moment in the war in Iraq. Newly-released emails and other documents from the US Army detail the extensive military support on the TV series, and how they repeatedly bent...
Spy Culture - 2019-01-03 - Original post - cached version
A few months ago, then DOD Hollywood liaison Phil Strub gave an interview in which he described the work of the entertainment liaison offices. A document recently released by the US Navy proves that many of Strub's statements simply aren't true, and that the Pentagon are much more aggressive and...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-31 - Original post - cached version
Since the publication of National Security Cinema last summer, we have seen an uptick in the media coverage of the Pentagon in Hollywood, much of it originating with the Pentagon itself. This week I take a look at the PR efforts the DOD has embarked upon, about its own PR efforts in Hollywood....
Spy Culture - 2018-12-18 - Original post - cached version
A few weeks ago, Hollywood star Gerard Butler found himself behind a podium at the Pentagon talking to the national press. Given how rare Pentagon press conference have become in recent months, a number of people have asked the question as to how he ended up there, and why a Scottish movie star...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-14 - Original post - cached version
In our latest article, Matt and I reflect on two of the most common claims made about National Security Cinema, namely 1) That the government is really important in making movies more militaristic and 2) That Hollywood doesn’t produce dissenting films. While the first of these is somewhat true it...
Spy Culture - 2018-12-11 - Original post - cached version
Chris and Danny from Fortress on a Hill invited me onto their podcast to discuss militarism in Hollywood, the DOD's role in altering scripts, how recruitment propaganda works in the UK, the military vs intelligence approaches to counterinsurgency and other related topics.

(Read more...)...

Spy Culture - 2018-12-11 - Original post - cached version
While some senior military officials have spoken openly about the possibility of a war between the US and China, the entertainment liaison offices appear to be working to ensure that doesn't happen. Perhaps surprisingly, they have refused to support films, TV shows and video games where China is...
Spy Culture - 2018-11-26 - Original post - cached version
The US Army’s entertainment liaison office has worked on as wide a variety of TV entertainment as you can imagine, from Oprah to Top Chef, from The Price is Right to Man of Steel.  But they do sometimes reject requests for support, as was the case with Wife Swap which was turned down partly...
Spy Culture - 2018-11-25 - Original post - cached version
The men and women who are employed by the US military to fight its hegemonic wars often suffer from serious mental illness. Depression, PTSD/trauma, extreme anxiety and stress – these are commonplace among people both within the military and among veterans. In this episode I explore how the...
Spy Culture - 2018-11-21 - Original post - cached version
The latest reports from the US Army's entertainment liaison office show surprisingly few examples of them providing production assistance to films and TV shows. Instead, they appear to be spending the majority of their time arranging PR events, cosying up to studio executives and monitoring how...
Spy Culture - 2018-11-11 - Original post - cached version
Hollywood doesn’t make war films any more. This isn’t entirely true, but compared to the post-WW2 period there are a lot less war films being made today. In this in-depth episode I offer a brief history of war movies and anti-war movies, and how the Pentagon’s policy on supporting films depicting...
Spy Culture - 2018-11-06 - Original post - cached version
The Vietnam war had a huge impact.  3 million dead Vietnamese, tens of thousands of dead Americans, and millions more on both sides suffering from trauma, depression and drug and alcohol addiction.  It also had a major influence on the US public’s willingness to engage in full-scale wars (at least...
Spy Culture - 2018-10-25 - Original post - cached version
12 Strong, based on the book Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton, is set in the early days of the US war in Afghanistan. Emails released by the US Army detail the support they and the Air Force provided to the production as well as their communications with the producers. During shooting, one of the...
Spy Culture - 2018-10-21 - Original post - cached version
The new Amazon series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is the first TV show to film at CIA headquarters for several years, in keeping with the Agency’s long-time support for adaptations of Clancy’s work. In this episode I review and analyse the series, including the inevitable references to 9/11, the...
Spy Culture - 2018-10-18 - Original post - cached version
Amazon's new headline streaming series Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan is the first TV show to film at CIA headquarters for several years, after a fairly disastrous run that saw two awful movies along with an awful TV programme film there circa 2014. In keeping with the CIA's longstanding love affair with...
Spy Culture - 2018-10-14 - Original post - cached version
The CIA’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) was established in the late 1970s and contains their entertainment liaison office. This week I go through an 8-page summary of the CIA’s Entertainment Liaison and Media Outreach activities covering 2014-16. This includes their relationships with journalists...
Spy Culture - 2018-10-10 - Original post - cached version
The CIA's Office of Public Affairs is - ironically - very tight-lipped about what they actually do, so I was pleased that they recently responded to a 3 year old FOIA request and provided me with a document summarising their activities from 2014 to 2016. This includes numerous meetings with...
Spy Culture - 2018-10-07 - Original post - cached version
To unsuspecting movie audiences Pitch Perfect 3 is a piece of lighthearted family-friendly entertainment to be enjoyed and then forgotten almost immediately. Lurking beneath this neutrally-toned surface lies a work of military recruitment propaganda, intelligently crafted to appeal to demographics...

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