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MEJORES ESTRENOS 2011 (BEST MOVIES 2011 IN PERU) .
Washington, D.C. (Wednesday, August 10, 2011) – U.S. Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, has called for an investigation into reports that President Obama’s Administration has granted Sony Pictures and filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow high-level access for a film on the mission in which U.S. Special Operations Forces killed Osama bin Laden. The film is reportedly to be released next October, just a month before the November 2012 elections.
In a letter to Defense Department Inspector General Gordon Heddell and CIA Inspector General David Buckley, King wrote that the “Administration’s first duty in declassifying material is to provide full reporting to Congress and the American people, in an effort to build public trust through transparency of government. In contrast, this alleged collaboration belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history.”
The signed letter is available on the Committee’s website.
The text of the letter sent to the inspectors general follows:
August 9, 2011
The Honorable Gordon S. Heddell
Department of Defense
400 Army Navy Drive
Arlington, VA 22202-4704
The Honorable David Buckley
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, DC 20505
Dear Inspectors General Heddell and Buckley:
I write to express concern regarding ongoing leaks of classified information regarding sensitive military operations. As reported in a New York Times column on August 6, 2011, Administration officials may have provided filmmakers with details of the raid that successfully killed Usama bin Laden (UBL). According to that report, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. and movie director Kathryn Bigelow received “top-level access to the most classified mission in history” to produce a movie about the raid, due for release in October 2012. Reportedly, a Hollywood filmmaker also attended a CIA ceremony in honor of the team that carried out the raid.
The Administration’s first duty in declassifying material is to provide full reporting to Congress and the American people, in an effort to build public trust through transparency of government. In contrast, this alleged collaboration belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history.
Special Operations Command’s Admiral Eric Olson stated that the May 1st raid “was successful because nobody talked about it before, and if we want to preserve this capability nobody better talk about it after,” and that his operators’ “15 minutes of fame lasted about 14 minutes too long. They want to get back in the shadows.” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen stated that “It is time to stop talking,” as “We have gotten to a point where we are close to jeopardizing the precision capability that we have, and we can’t afford to do that. This fight isn’t over.” Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that “Too many people in too many places are talking too much about this operation, and when so much detail is available it makes that both more difficult and riskier” for such missions in the future.
Leaks of classified information regarding the bin Laden raid have already resulted, according to a June 15, 2011 article in the Washington Post, in the arrests of Pakistanis who were believed by local authorities to have assisted the CIA with the May 1st raid. Further participation by JSOC and the Agency in making a film about the raid is bound to increase such leaks, and undermine these organizations’ hard-won reputations as “quiet professionals” − reputations important for their continued operational success. And, the success of these organizations is vital to our continued homeland security.
Therefore, I request an investigation and classified briefing regarding this matter from the Defense Department’s and CIA’s Inspectors General, including but not limited to the following:
• What consultations, if any, occurred between members of the Executive Office of the President, and Department of Defense and/or CIA officials, regarding the advisability of providing Hollywood executives with access to covert military operators and clandestine CIA officers to discuss the UBL raid?
• Will a copy of this film be submitted to the military and CIA for pre-publication review, to determine if special operations tactics, techniques and procedures, or Agency intelligence sources and methods, would be revealed by its release?
• How was the attendance of filmmakers at a meeting with special operators and Agency officers at CIA Headquarters balanced against those officers’ duties to maintain their covers? How will cover concerns be addressed going forward?
• What steps did the Administration take to ensure that no special operations tactics, techniques, and procedures were compromised during those meetings?
• To the extent possible to determine, how many human intelligence sources and how many Agency intelligence methods have been compromised due to leaks about the May 1st raid? What effects have these compromises had on the CIA’s collection capabilities? Will Agency participation in a film about the bin Laden raid add to or exacerbate the effects of these compromises?
As Mace Neufeld, the producer of the 1990 film “The Hunt for Red October,” later recounted to Variety, studios in the post-“Top Gun” era instituted an unstated rule telling screenwriters and directors to get military cooperation “or forget about making the picture.” Economics drives that directive, Time magazine reported in 1986. “Without such billion-dollar props, producers [have to] spend an inordinate amount of time and money searching for substitutes” and therefore might not be able to make the movie at all, the magazine noted.
Emboldened by Hollywood’s obsequiousness, military officials became increasingly blunt about how they deploy the carrot of subsidized hardware and the stick of denied access to get what they want. Strub described the approval process to Variety in 1994: “The main criteria we use is . . . how could the proposed production benefit the military . . . could it help in recruiting [and] is it in sync with present policy?”
Robert Anderson, the Navy’s Hollywood point person, put it even more clearly to PBS in 2006: “If you want full cooperation from the Navy, we have a considerable amount of power, because it’s our ships, it’s our cooperation, and until the script is in a form that we can approve, then the production doesn’t go forward.”
The result is an entertainment culture rigged to produce relatively few antiwar movies and dozens of blockbusters that glorify the military. For every “Hurt Locker” — a successful and critical war film made without Pentagon assistance — American moviegoers get a flood of pro-war agitprop, from “Armageddon,” to “Pearl Harbor,” to “Battle Los Angeles” to “X-Men.” And save for filmmakers’ obligatory thank you to the Pentagon in the credits, audiences are rarely aware that they may be watching government-subsidized propaganda.
Until this year, this Top Gun Effect seemed set in stone. But a quarter-century after that hagiographic tribute to the military’s “best of the best,” an odd alignment of partisan interests has prompted some in Congress to question the arrangement.
Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, recently sent letters to the CIA and the Defense Department demanding an investigation of the upcoming Bin Laden movie. He criticized the practice of granting ideologically compliant filmmakers access to government property and information that he says should be available to all. The “alleged collaboration belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history,” he argued.
Considering King’s previous silence on such issues, it’s not clear whether he’s standing on principle; more likely, he is trying to prevent a particular piece of propaganda from aiding a political opponent. Yet, even if inadvertent, King’s efforts make possible a broader look at how the U.S. government uses taxpayer resources to suffuse popular culture with militarism.
If and when King holds hearings on the matter, we could finally get to the important questions: Why does the Pentagon treat public hardware as private property? Why does the government grant and deny access to that hardware based on a filmmaker’s willingness to let the Pentagon influence the script? And doesn’t such a practice violate the First Amendment’s prohibition against government abridging freedom of speech?
David Sirota is is a syndicated columnist, radio host and the author of “Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now.” He will be online to chat on Monday, Aug. 29 at 12 p.m. ET.3.2. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (Viernes, 26 de Agosto de 2011):
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer recently struck a deal with ABC for a pilot about the family life and field missions of Navy SEALs. Universal is readying "Lone Survivor," a script about a decorated SEAL who fought through a rout in the mountains of Afghanistan. Sony recently set an October 2012 release date for "Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal's account of the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, capped by the SEAL-led killing of the al Qaeda leader.
The box-office taint on movies with a perceived political bent, combined with the budget pressures that combat narratives bring, have made many contemporary war stories seem too risky for the studios, says director Peter Berg. He co-wrote the script for "Lone Survivor," which he will direct, based on a memoir by former SEAL Marcus Luttrell. For research, Mr. Berg embedded with a special-forces team at a remote base in Iraq near the Syrian border. Universal signed off on the project only after Mr. Berg agreed to first direct "Battleship," a big-budget extrapolation of the board game property, slated for release next spring.
Nevertheless, Mr. Berg says "Lone Survivor" wouldn't have been greenlighted had it not offered some commercial potential for the studio. "The idea of a good old-fashioned combat yarn, in which the politics are very clear—we support these men—was more appealing to them." Unlike many of the portraits of soldiers at war presented in recent years, "Lone Survivor" is about "the core warrior spirit," he said. "It's an unabashed tribute to the courage of these men." Production is scheduled to begin next spring.
In 2008, Navy Special Warfare invited a handful of production companies to submit proposals for a film project, possibly a documentary, that would flesh out the role of the SEALs. The goals: bolster recruiting efforts, honor fallen team members and offer a corrective to misleading fare such as "Navy Seals," the 1990 shoot-em-up starring Charlie Sheen as a cocky lone wolf. "In the SEAL ethos, the superman myth does not apply. It's a lifestyle of teamwork, hard work and academic discipline," said Capt. Duncan Smith, a SEAL who initiated the project and essentially served as producer within the military.
The project offered filmmakers access to SEALs as well as military assets, but no funding. A production company called the Bandito Brothers, which had previously worked with Navy Special Warfare on a series of recruiting videos, got the assignment. Co-founded by Mr. McCoy, a former off-road racing champion and stuntman, and Scott Waugh, who had run a stunt company, the Bandito Brothers specialized in shooting action-driven viral ads for brands such as BMW and Mountain Dew.
The Los Angeles-based Bandito Brothers began shuttling back and forth to Coronado, Calif., the SEALs training base near San Diego, to conduct on-camera interviews. They initially planned to work the research into a script, then hire actors to play the lead SEALs. The filmmakers' calling card within the military was a 2005 documentary called "Dust to Glory," for which they positioned about 55 cameras on dirt bikes, trucks and dune buggies in the bone-jarring Baja 1000, an annual off-road race in Mexico. The gritty camaraderie depicted in the movie resonated with the SEALs, as did the on-screen tenacity of Mr. McCoy (nicknamed Mouse), who did the team-based race solo on a motorcycle. He crossed the finish line in 18 hours, nursing broken bones from a crash.
As the SEALs' stories unfolded on camera and over beers, the filmmakers began to question the idea of casting actors to play the sailors. In one interview, a lieutenant spoke articulately and without affect about feeling envious while looking down at a comrade's coffin, knowing the man had fulfilled his duty to the end. In the lieutenant and another SEAL, a voluble father of five, the directors realized they'd found their leads. But it took them four months to persuade the men and a half-dozen other SEALs to take roles in the movie, thus bucking their community's ideal of the "quiet professional." For the SEALs, the decision meant potentially risking "ridicule for the rest of their careers for stepping outside the community," Mr. McCoy says.
After they made a group decision to participate, deciding the project served the SEALs' greater good, the Navy made the film a formal task for the sailors, who were between deployments. Their names won't appear in the "Act of Valor" credits; instead, the film will list Naval Special Warfare members killed since Sept. 11.
The Bandito Brothers commissioned a script from Kurt Johnstad, who had co-written "300," a comic-book-style depiction of ancient Spartan warriors that has many fans among U.S. troops, but that many critics dismissed as heavy-handed and excessively violent. His "Act of Valor" screenplay revolved around a SEAL team's mission to stop a Chechen jihadist cooperating with a smuggler to send suicide bombers across the Mexican border toward U.S. targets. (A villain from Eastern Europe was a less obvious and potentially sensitive choice than an Arab, the filmmakers say.) Most of the story's big action scenes were plotted around training operations that the Navy already had on the calendar.
To plot a scene in which the smuggler is apprehended on his yacht, the SEALs and their commanders used whiteboards to sketch out how such an operation would unfold in reality. To capture it, a Bandito crew, armed with 16 cameras, shot a squad in real time as it ran the simulated "maritime interdiction operation" in domestic waters. A boat-mounted machine gun opened fire and sailors plunged out of a helicopter on ropes to take control of a 150-foot yacht, rented by the filmmakers for the two-day exercise. In between training runs, the crew shot a key scene aboard the yacht, where the villain (played by an actor) is questioned below deck by a SEAL, working mostly off script.
The filmmakers came away with key scenes for "Act of Valor," while the Navy would receive blanket footage of the exercise for use in future training. Having paid for the initial shoot themselves, at less than $1 million, the Bandito Brothers showed the clip to potential investors to demonstrate they could execute the film's unusual concept. Over time, financing came from about dozen parties, including Legendary Entertainment, the company behind blockbusters such as "The Dark Knight" and "Inception." Bandito Brothers Chief Operating Officer Max Leitman declined to discuss the film's total budget.
The Bandito Brothers' L.A. headquarters is nestled in a maze of converted warehouses. A loft-style office space opens onto a cactus-studded garden, where a silver Airstream trailer serves as an office and clubhouse. In an adjacent lot, a hangar-size building is being converted into a production facility, supplementing a garage that houses a studio and a small fleet of dusty motocross bikes. On a recent afternoon, artists at computer monitors toiled over visuals for the coming superhero movie "The Avengers," directed by Joss Whedon. The digital-effects job resulted from the Bandito Brothers' joint venture with design studio Cantina Creative.
"Radness?" Mr. McCoy said to one worker as he walked by. "Making radness?" The director has a slight, wiry build (hence his nickname since childhood). He smokes small Macanudo cigars, and his loping gait suggests both a swagger and a history of broken bones.
Mr. McCoy and his partners have clearly been influenced by their time in the SEALs' midst. Six out of their seven SEAL "actors" have been deployed since the film wrapped. Just days after a helicopter had been shot down in Afghanistan carrying more than 30 men, 17 of them SEALs, the filmmakers spoke carefully about the "really heavy burden" they felt to accurately portray the sailors' skills and sacrifices. On Friday, the Navy Special Warfare community gathers at Arlington National Cemetery for a private burial ceremony.
In the movie, authenticity came with some trade-offs. Some dialogue-driven scenes seem stilted, including banter between the SEALs, who address each other as "dude" or "sir." The sailors' rapid descriptions of their mission plans could speed over some viewers' heads. Mr. McCoy acknowledged, "These guys are not Johnny Depp or Daniel Day-Lewis."
The filmmakers say the SEALs tackled their acting duties methodically, as they would a new tactical skill. In a scene where one of them discovers a female CIA operative who has been kidnapped and tortured, the directors coached him to slow down and tap into the emotion of the rescue. "For the audience, you need to get really compassionate. The women are going to need to connect," Mr. McCoy recalled saying.
By contrast, in the movie's many battle scenes, the sailors move with a fluid precision that makes typical Hollywood action movies look bogus. When the SEALs picked off enemies and moved through buildings in a tight snaking column, some footage was captured by helmet-mounted cameras. Certain plot points were based on true stories from the field, including a scene in which a sailor takes a rocket-propelled grenade to the chest at close range and lives.
By last March, the filmmakers had completed a final version of the film, following a tactical "scrub," during which officials screened 1,800 hours of footage for scenes that could divulge sensitive tactics. For instance, a re-edit made it less obvious how a SEAL team would line up to storm a room. Sales agents at William Morris Entertainment were deciding on a plan for selling the film to a distributor when, on May 1, news broke that Osama bin Laden had been killed.
Studios immediately angled for projects that might capture some of the public fascination with the SEALs who led the strike. The most high-profile was the Bigelow and Boal script, which had been in development since 2008. Sony scooped up the movie about the bin Laden hunt within three weeks of his death. The movie is expected to be released in October 2012, a date that has drawn some political controversy. Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) called for an investigation into whether the White House gave the filmmakers access to confidential information and suggested that the film's planned release next fall could influence the presidential election soon after. White House spokesman Jay Carney called the suggestion "ridiculous"; the filmmakers said in a statement that their film had no political angle.
Bin Laden's death found the Bandito Brothers sitting on a completed SEALs movie, but they didn't immediately put it on the auction block. "We were nervous about seeming exploitative," says WME agent Liesl Copland. The agency set up two "Act of Valor" screenings for potential buyers in June, four weeks after bin Laden was killed, by which time most of the related deal-making had died down in Hollywood.
A half-dozen distributors, including Alcon Entertainment and Film District, made serious bids for the movie. It sold to Relativity Media, known for titles such as "Bridesmaids" and "The Social Network," for $13 million. In addition to the financial terms of the deal, the filmmakers said they were won over by the company's plan for a long-term rollout, led by marketing head Terry Curtin, who comes from a line of Navy aviators and admirals. Relativity plans a wide release on Presidents Day weekend, Feb. 17.
The Bandito Brothers acknowledge that the bin Laden timing helped them land a faster, more attractive deal than they might have otherwise. But they're gratified that Relativity didn't want to rush the movie out just to capitalize on the SEALs' moment in the spotlight. By February, Mr. Leitman says, "Act of Valor" can be expected to "sink, swim, live or die on its own."
David Sirota is a best-selling author of the new book "Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at www.davidsirota.com. More: David Sirota