SAUL GONZALEZ: Entertainment industry journalist David L. Robb is the author of "Operation Hollywood," a book that critically examines the relationship between the Department of Defense and the film and television industry. He's most concerned about the military's policy of script review and its power to demand changes in characters and plot points in return for cooperation.
DAVID ROBB: If you want the military's assistance, you have to give them five copies of your script. They review the script. They make changes to the script to make it conform to the kind of film that they want to see. Most Americans have no idea that the content of the films and TV shows that they're watching are being influenced by military censors, that the military or the government is telling filmmakers what to say and what not to say.
SAUL GONZALEZ: The Navy's Robert Anderson, who reviews 30 to 50 feature scripts a year, acknowledges his office's production clout.
ROBERT ANDERSON: If you want full cooperation from the Navy, we have a considerable amount of power, because it's our ships, it's our cooperation.
SAUL GONZALEZ: It's your stuff.
ROBERT ANDERSON: And until the script is in a form that we can approve, then the production doesn't go forward until that.
SAUL GONZALEZ: In the film "Windtalkers," set during World War II, the military got filmmakers to cut a scene depicting American Marines taking gold teeth from the mouths of dead Japanese soldiers.
KEVIN CONWAY, "Gen. Curtis LeMay," "Thirteen Days": All you got to do is say go. My boys will get those red bastards.
SAUL GONZALEZ: In the movie "Thirteen Days," about the Cuban missile crisis, the Pentagon had concerns about the portrayal of General Curtis LeMay, a real historical figure. Although archives indicate he wanted to bomb Cuba, the military wanted his character to be toned down and made less warlike.
KEVIN CONWAY: And return stability to the strategic situation.
DAVID ROBB: The military did not want to see that in a movie. They do not want to see the military being portrayed as dangerous to world peace.
SAUL GONZALEZ: However, the makers of "Thirteen Days" declined to make changes and went ahead without military support. But Robb says, on some projects, Department of Defense assistance is so important, film and TV producers can't say no to the military.
DAVID ROBB: More often than not, they cave in, by far because the cost-saving can be so great. And sometimes studios will tell the producers, "If you don't get military assistance, we won't green light this project."
SAUL GONZALEZ: The military people who work with Hollywood reject charges that they're censors. They say they're only trying to get film and television to show the people, duties and values of the Armed Forces accurately.
KATHY CANHAM ROSS: We want to see people coming out of it and going, "I never knew that about the Army before. I never knew they did that."
ROBERT ANDERSON: I've had scripts where a four-star admiral is actually in charge of a drug ring, you know, drug smuggling ring. That's not going to happen. Nobody is going to make four stars in the military and be engaged in criminal activity like that.
SAUL GONZALEZ: But would you have an admiral who helps to cover up a war crime? That's in the realm of possibility.
ROBERT ANDERSON: That could happen. Certainly, that could happen.
SAUL GONZALEZ: Would you support that?
ROBERT ANDERSON: Again, it depends on how the system plays out. If, in the end, the guy's held accountable for that, absolutely we'd support it, absolutely. But if it's like, you know, the guy -- he's a fictional character, and he thumbs his nose at the world and the Navy, and says, "Ha ha, I did this and I got away with it," we probably wouldn't support that.