Hollywood considers role in war effort
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Representatives of Hollywood's major studios, television networks and creative community met with a White House delegation Sunday for what was described as a "lively exchange of ideas" on how the entertainment industry can help in the war against terrorism.
Despite the sometimes contentious relationship between the worlds of entertainment and politics, "there was a seamless web of unity that was really quite affectionate to behold," said Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, in a news conference after the meeting.
"This was about contributing Hollywood's creative imagination and their persuasion skills to help in this war effort so that one day Americans can lead normal lives again," said Valenti, who was an adviser to President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s.
Both Valenti and senior White House adviser Karl Rove, who attended the meeting, made it clear Hollywood would make its own decisions about how to help in the war effort and that the White House was not asking the entertainment industry to produce propaganda.
"The world is full of people who are discerning, and we need to recognize that concrete information told with honesty and specificity and integrity is important to the ultimate success in this conflict," Rove said.
"There was no mention of content," Valenti said. "The White House and its representatives did not say anything about that because they knew that was not the subject that was up for either debate or suggestion. Content was off the table."
"Directors, writers, producers [and] studios will determine the kind of pictures they choose to make and compelling stories they want to tell," he said.
The heads of all the major Hollywood studios and representatives of television networks and theater owners attended the brainstorming session, along with officials from creative guilds representing writers, directors and actors.
The discussion centered around themes Rove said the Hollywood community could help address:
-- The antiterrorism campaign is not a war against Islam.
-- There is an opportunity to issue a call to service for Americans.
-- U.S. troops and their families need support.
-- The September 11 attacks were an attack against civilization and require a global response.
-- Children need to be reassured of their safety and security in the wake of the attacks.
-- The antiterrorism campaign is a war against evil.
No specific recommendations or plans were unveiled after Sunday's meeting, which was described as "the beginning of the beginning" of Hollywood's effort.
Ideas mentioned included developing public service announcements for distribution domestically and abroad, providing first-run movies to troops overseas, and encouraging Hollywood stars to participate in USO shows to entertain troops.
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