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The CIA in Hollywood

The CIA in Hollywood

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    The CIA in Hollywood
    Book Description:

    What's your impression of the CIA? A bumbling agency that can't protect its own spies? A rogue organization prone to covert operations and assassinations? Or a dedicated public service that advances the interests of the United States? Astute TV and movie viewers may have noticed that the CIA's image in popular media has spanned this entire range, with a decided shift to more positive portrayals in recent years. But what very few people know is that the Central Intelligence Agency has been actively engaged in shaping the content of film and television, especially since it established an entertainment industry liaison program in the mid-1990s.

    The CIA in Hollywoodoffers the first full-scale investigation of the relationship between the Agency and the film and television industries. Tricia Jenkins draws on numerous interviews with the CIA's public affairs staff, operations officers, and historians, as well as with Hollywood technical consultants, producers, and screenwriters who have worked with the Agency, to uncover the nature of the CIA's role in Hollywood. In particular, she delves into the Agency's and its officers' involvement in the production ofThe Agency,In the Company of Spies,Alias,The Recruit,The Sum of All Fears,Enemy of the State,Syriana,The Good Shepherd, and more. Her research reveals the significant influence that the CIA now wields in Hollywood and raises important and troubling questions about the ethics and legality of a government agency using popular media to manipulate its public image.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-73707-5
    Subjects: Film Studies, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    Agencies of the U.S. government have long employed entertainment liaison officers to improve their public image in the mass media. For instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation established an office in the 1930s to bolster its image in radio programs, films, and television shows, includingG-Men(1935),The FBI Story(1959), andThe F.B.I.(1965–1974). In 1947, the Department of Defense followed suit, and now the army, the navy, the air force, the marine corps, the coast guard, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Secret Service all have motion picture and television offices or official assistants to the...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Rogues, Assassins, and Buffoons: Representations of the CIA in Film and Television
    (pp. 14-31)

    The CIA often claims that it opened its doors to Hollywood in the 1990s because it had had enough of the way filmmakers depicted the Agency. In 2001, for example, theNew York Timesreported that Langley finally decided to reverse its policy of rejecting requests from producers for consultation because it was “tired of being depicted on screen as a nefarious organization full of rogue operatives.”¹ Chase Brandon, the Agency’s first entertainment liaison, added that “year after year, as moviegoers and TV watchers, we’ve seen our image and our reputation constantly sullied with egregious, ugly misrepresentations of who we...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Opening the Doors: Why and How the CIA Works with Hollywood
    (pp. 32-53)

    The CIA claims that it began cooperating with Hollywood in the 1990s to help reverse its image in film and television, since these mediums have usually depicted the Agency as a rogue, immoral outfit with a penchant for assassination and failure. Additionally, the CIA often frames its early cooperation efforts within the concepts of accuracy and education, stressing the danger of letting its negative image go unchecked. Indeed, Paul Barry claimed, “Hollywood is the only way that the public learns about the Agency.”¹ Since most Americans “do not do their own research,” he continued, “Hollywood’s depictions of us become very...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Necessary and Competent: The CIA in The Agency and In the Company of Spies
    (pp. 54-72)

    WhileThe Classified Files of the CIAnever made it to viewers, other CIA-assisted projects began to appear by the turn of the millennium. These texts were not as tightly controlled by the Agency, which had recruited its own production company, provided the source material, and secured script-review rights for the joint CIA-TPP project. Rather, these new collaborations focused on an entertainment liaison assisting outside creators in the preproduction and production stages in order to shape the finished product’s tone and content.

    Two of the earliest examples of this type of collaboration are Showtime’s movieIn the Company of Spies...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Chase Brandon Years
    (pp. 73-96)

    In the Company of Spies(1999) andThe Agency(2001–2003) were two of the earliest projects to receive CIA assistance, but they were certainly not the only ones. In fact, Chase Brandon’s term as entertainment industry liaison officer was prolific. From 1996 to 2007, he assisted numerous projects, includingEnemy of the State(1998),Alias(2001–2006), 24 (2001–2010),Bad Company(2002),The Sum of All Fears(2002),The Bourne Identity(DVD, 2003),The Recruit(2003),Fard Ayn(in preproduction), andThe Rogue(in preproduction). By associating themselves with the CIA, these filmmakers were able to market their...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Legal and Ethical Implications of the CIA in Hollywood
    (pp. 97-114)

    The CIA has formally worked with the motion picture industry for over fifteen years. The prior chapters of this book have largely focused on the ends and the means of that involvement. The CIA’s particular relationship with Hollywood, however, also raises several legal and ethical concerns, especially since the Agency refuses to assist any filmmaker depicting it in an unfavorable light. By exploring these issues in detail, this chapter ultimately concludes that the CIA’s refusal to support all filmmakers seeking its assistance constitutes a violation of free speech. It also posits that the CIA’s efforts to influence texts should be...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Last People We Want in Hollywood: The Retired CIA Officer and the Hollywood Docudrama
    (pp. 115-132)

    The CIA’s Public Affairs Office, its entertainment liaisons, and its director have all worked with Hollywood to improve the Agency’s image, but retired officers are also active in the industry. Bazzel Baz, Tony Mendez, and Jonna Mendez are all Agency retirees who have worked as technical consultants and associate producers, while the retired Chase Brandon has continued to consult filmmakers and pitch new television series. Likewise, John Strauchs served as a technical consultant onSneakers(1992) and the late F. Mark Wyatt reportedly helped raise funds and circulate early prints ofYuri Nosenko, KGB(1986) to help generate interest in...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 133-138)

    Since the CIA first started appearing in motion pictures in the 1960s, the Agency has been depicted in a very negative light. Indeed, Hollywood’s most common constructions of Langley revolved around the image of the CIA as a rogue organization, working outside effective oversight; as a malicious organization that betrays its own assets and officers; as possessing a strong predilection toward assassination; or as a buffoonish and hopelessly inept outfit. Given this cinematic history, it is understandable that the CIA wished to reverse its popular image by working with motion picture creators, but given its culture of secrecy, it did...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 139-154)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 155-164)
  14. Index
    (pp. 165-167)