sábado, 17 de marzo de 2012


11 de Marzo de 2012.
Luces, Cámara, Acción Encubierta
Por Nina C. Ayoub

¿Qué te parecen las películas de suspenso con espías?
Para los que somos admiradores, el género usualmente es una mezcla irresistible de acción, intriga y cinismo. Aún cuando estemos advertidos de que una película nueva es abiertamente de fórmula y consecuencia de un modelo específico, podemos arriesgarnos - aunque sea para disfrutar del suspenso exagerado, las actuaciones o la puesta en escena. "El Invitado" (Safe House), es el tipo de película que irías a ver.
Pero existe una clase de espectadores para quien la frisson de la tensión no es siempre placentera. Esos espectadores se agrupan en Langley, Virginia (Estados Unidos de Norteamérica); siempre están malhumorados y, ya por años, indica Tricia Jenkins, han tratado de imponer reglas al género para "beneficio" de nosotros.
Tales esfuerzos se han dado tanto abiertamente como encubiertamente, señala la académica, autora de LA CIA (AGENCIA CENTRAL DE INTELIGENCIA ESTADOUNIDENSE) EN HOLLYWOOD: CÓMO LA AGENCIA INFLUYE SOBRE EL CINE Y LA TELEVISIÓN [The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television] (Editorial de la Universidad de Tejas / University of Texas Press) y profesora asistente de cine, televisión y medios de comunicación digitales en la Universidad Cristiana de Tejas (Texas Christian University). La doctora Jenkins se encontró con dificultades al investigar el tema que, según dice, ha recibido poco estudio por parte de los investigadores académicos. Abandonada a una estela dispersa de documentos, ella se dirigió a personalidades tanto de la agencia de inteligencia como de los círculos de Hollywood cuyos fragmentos de entrevistas dan vida al libro.

Throughout, Jenkins takes the CIA to task for claiming that it's just championing accuracy and education when it objects to its portrayals. While Hollywood's political tendencies and dramatic needs may distort narratives at times, such controversial themes as assassination, intelligence failure, and betrayals of agents and assets are simply part of CIA history, she writes.

For Jenkins, the CIA's resistance to negative portrayals goes beyond a moral lapse. She argues that in not cooperating with many who seek its aid, the agency violates the First Amendment since it uses its resources to favor only certain forms of speech. It also, she says, violates statutes that prohibit self-aggrandizement and puffery by government agencies. However, she admits, it has little reason to worry about a lawsuit. It need only look at the Pentagon, the FBI, and other peers that deal in discriminate fashion with producers without repercussions.

While the CIA has been around since 1947, it wasn't until 1996 that it appointed its first official entertainment-industry liaison officer, says the author. It was "the last major government agency to establish formal relations with the motion picture industry," she writes.

Why did this happen in the mid-1990s? Jenkins spotlights two events, both of which accelerated CIA efforts to be more proactive. The end of the cold war had left some questioning whether the agency had outlived its usefulness, especially given its failure to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then, in 1994, came one of its greatest public debacles: the Aldrich Ames case. Ames, a veteran counterintelligence agent, had been active as a mole for nearly a decade. In 1985 he'd sold the names of three Russian double agents to the KGB for $50,000 and went on to sell out nearly every other Russian asset for some $4.6-million. The CIA's inability to uncover the mole for years put Langley "in the bull's eye for its failures," Jenkins was told by Kent Harrington, Langley's director of public affairs at the time. Adding to the impact was Ames's own testimony calling the espionage business a "self-serving sham, carried out by careerist bureaucrats who have managed to deceive several generations of American policy makers and the public about both the necessity and the value of their work."

The damage caused by Ames would "prove to be the most significant factor that led the CIA to invest fully in Hollywood," Jenkins writes.

One response was that Harrington and then-CIA director James Woolsey began developing The Classified Files of the CIA. It was envisioned as a weekly dramatic series. No need to search Netflix. The show never made it beyond initial work on a pilot. But its story is nonetheless telling. Harrington and Woolsey picked a production company that they felt would best protect the agency's interests. The model for the show was The FBI, a 1960s series that was J. Edgar Hoover's pet project. The plan was to base each episode on unclassified CIA case-file summaries provided to producers. The agency would see each script in advance. If it objected to any content, the script would either be revised, or it could proceed in production but without the right to use the CIA's name or grand seal. Tensions developed, however, when new big-name producers wanted to reduce the level of agency control. Ultimately, the issue was moot. In 1995 Woolsey was forced to resign as CIA director and John Deutch, his successor, axed the TV project.

Future Langley-Los Angeles collaborations would be somewhat less hands-on but still substantial. For example, the agency went all out for a 1999 TV movie, In the Company of Spies. Along with script consultation, it allowed more than 12 hours of filming at Langley and provided more than 50 CIA employees as extras, says Jenkins. Most splashy of all, it held the premiere at headquarters. Along with boosting its public image and recruitment, the agency hoped to elevate morale and celebrated the collaboration in What's News at CIA?, an internal organ.

Another project of that period was The Agency, a 2001 CBS show whose debut just weeks after September 11 "helped deflect criticisms launched at the CIA for failing to foresee the attacks," writes Jenkins. Officially the agency's involvement with The Agency ended with the pilot, and the show moved to using former CIA agents as consultants. However, the role of the CIA's first-ever entertainment liaison, Chase Brandon, continued, as Jenkins found out talking with The Agency'screator, Michael Frost Beckner. The two men continued to speak regularly on the phone. "Because these conversations were so casual," Beckner told Jenkins, "I'm not sure that I would classify them as official CIA-Hollywood exchanges; you know, sometimes it's just so hard to tell with the CIA what counts as official because they have a way of communicating what they want without making you feel like it is a 'government message' per se."

Nevertheless, the chats led to several new storylines, and, Jenkins writes, Beckner's sense that Brandon wanted to use the show to "workshop threat scenarios." Brandon also encouraged Beckner to feature biometric identification technologies that were beyond the agency's current capacities, but might deter enemies, since, as he was fond of saying, "terrorists watch TV, too."

The Agency lasted only two seasons. However, Alias, another 2001 show, had vastly more success. But would the CIA champion a program in which the lead spy's wardrobe got as much play as her tradecraft? And what about the second and third seasons, when the CIA is portrayed as thoroughly compromised? While Alias's story lines were not always ideal, the CIA still traded on the show's glamour when it asked its star, Jennifer Garner, to videotape a recruitment message.

Another production the agency alternately embraced and held at arm's length was the 2003 filmThe Recruit. In it, Al Pacino talks Colin Farrell, an MIT (!) student into training at the CIA's fabled "Farm." Despite The Recruit's midfilm shift toward the negative, the DVD has none other than Chase Brandon featured in an "extra" promoting the real training program.

Official involvement is one thing, but the CIA often looks askance at retired agents' work with film and TV producers. Retired operatives are often "the last people we want representing the Agency," Brandon's successor, Paul Barry, told Jenkins, "since many left disillusioned and pitch that perspective to Hollywood." One of those very same "last people" interviewed by Jenkins is Robert Baer. He was an adviser on the stellar 2005 film Syriana, as well as inspiration for one of its leading characters, played in an Oscar-winning performance by a rumpled, bearded George Clooney. Jenkins spotlights Syriana, along with The Good Shepherd (2006), as examples of just the kinds of "docudramas" produced with retired CIA help that particularly inflame Langley.

La doctora TRICIA JENKINS presenta su libro "LA CIA (AGENCIA CENTRAL DE INTELIGENCIA ESTADOUNIDENSE) EN HOLLYWOOD: CÓMO LA AGENCIA INFLUYE SOBRE EL CINE Y LA TELEVISIÓN" [The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television]. Es posible ver unas diapositivas utilizadas por la doctora Jenkins en una disertación sobre el contenido del texto en:


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