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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 12, 2001

Hollywood asked to help in terror war

By Gary Gentile
Associated Press Business Writer

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Top Hollywood executives met with a senior White House official yesterday to discuss how the entertainment industry could help the war on terrorism.

Academy Award-winning actor Jimmy Stewart salutes at Fort MacArthur, Calif., March 22, 1941, after his induction into the Army Air Corp in Los Angeles.

Associated Press

Participants said they talked about Hollywood-produced public service announcements and first-run movies for troops in the field, but emphasized that there was no discussion of altering movies or television shows.

"Content was off the table," said Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America. "Directors, writers, producers, studios will determine the kind of pictures they choose to make and the compelling stories they want to tell."

Karl Rove, a senior adviser to President Bush who met with the chiefs of Hollywood's biggest studios and the heads of its major unions, said the entertainment industry has much to offer.

"These people, like every other American, feel strongly about the events of September 11 and the need to see this war through to its victorious conclusion," Rove said.

Rove said he discussed several broad themes with the participants, including encouraging volunteerism, offering support for American troops and their families, and showing that the administration's war was against terrorism, not Islam.

Valenti said studios could have a role in producing public service announcements that could air both at home and abroad.

"We can try to tell people how America has been the most generous country in the world, we have fed and clothed and sheltered millions of people without asking anything in return," Valenti said.

Rove said he did not ask that Hollywood produce government propaganda.

"The world is full of people who are discerning and we need to recognize that concrete information told with honesty, specificity and integrity is important to the ultimate success of this conflict," Rove said.

Entertainment officials had met several weeks earlier with lower-level government officials to brainstorm ideas, which included producing documentaries on the anthrax threat and fostering better understanding overseas of the United States.

Republican administrations rarely enjoy close relationships with Hollywood, which raises millions of dollars for Democratic candidates.

And the entertainment industry has come under fire for marketing violent movies, music and video games to children. Congress has periodically threatened to turn regulation of the industry over to the Federal Trade Commission, which has criticized Hollywood's marketing efforts.