Officials, Hollywood Brass Meet on Entertainment's Help with War Effort
White House officials and top Hollywood executives Sunday agreed the entertainment industry could play an important role in Washington's effort to win the public relations war on terrorism.
The two sides met in Los Angeles for a brainstorming session on how Hollywood could help the government in the wake of the deadly September 11 attacks, emphasizing that any contribution would not be the precursor for a propaganda machine.
"We need to recognize that concrete information told with honesty and specificity and integrity is important to the ultimate success of this conflict," said Karl Rove, one of President George W. Bush's closest advisers.
"It's clear that the leaders of the industry have ideas about how they want to contribute to the war effort ... we want to encourage that," he told a press conference.
Rove outlined seven themes discussed: the US-led campaign is a war on terrorism, not Islam; the US call for community service; the need to support US troops and their families; the September 11 attacks were global attacks that require a global response; the US campaign is a war on evil; the responsibility to reassure children of their safety; and, the need to avoid propaganda.
The Bush aide said the public's perception of Hollywood's involvement in the US-led global anti-terror campaign could be falsely influenced by notions that the government had controlled the industry during World War II.
"The industry decides what it will do and when it will do it," Rove noted.
Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon told CNN earlier Sunday that the campaign might be "Washington-inspired" but "not a government-directed effort".
Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, said Hollywood's contribution could start with a series of public service announcements, to be broadcast both in the United States and abroad.
Valenti said it was vital to "make it clear to the millions of Muslims in the world that this is not an attack on Muslims -- this is an attack on people who murder innocent people", people who Valenti said were not true Muslims.
Rove said the contribution could be even more mundane, citing as an example a request from the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt to send the troops first-run movies for screenings on the aircraft carrier.
Some of Hollywood's biggest stars like Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise have participated in charity events and filmed television spots, urging US citizens to donate to relief funds for victims of the September 11 attacks.
And New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on Thursday unveiled an advertising campaign featuring A-list stars like Billy Crystal and Robert DeNiro to promote tourism in the city, devastated by the attack on the World Trade Center.
Bryce Zybel, chief executive officer of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, told CNN that Hollywood's effort would be "driven by the spirit of volunteerism".
"This is the beginning of the beginning," Valenti said.
Rove said a specific date had not yet been set for a follow-up meeting, and that Valenti would coordinate meetings within the entertainment industry -- AFP
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