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U.S. Military Helps Create Hollywood Films on War and Warriors

Over the years, Hollywood has created many blockbuster films on U.S. wars and its warriors. With liaison offices with the entertainment industry, the American military often plays a role in helping to create and craft its depiction.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Now, a role for the U.S. military in Hollywood productions. NewsHour correspondent Saul Gonzalez of KCET-Los Angeles has our story.

  • ACTOR:

    Hit the deck! How are you, McFarmer?

  • ACTOR:

    I got hit.

  • SAUL GONZALEZ, NewsHour Correspondent:

    From the days of John Wayne storming ashore in the movie "Sands of Iwo Jima" to today's special effects filled-blockbusters, it's no secret that Hollywood has long loved telling stories about war and warriors.

    But what's not as well-known is the role the real-life American military often plays in helping to create and craft its depiction in films and television shows. The Pentagon's partnership with Hollywood starts at this West Los Angeles office tower, where every branch of the military keeps a liaison office to the entertainment industry.

    So are these examples of all the films that you've worked with?

    ROBERT ANDERSON, Navy Office of Information-West: These are some of the films we've worked with.

  • SAUL GONZALEZ:

    Robert Anderson, a retired naval commander, has long been the Navy's top man in Hollywood. Like his counterparts in other branches of the Armed Forces, Anderson's mission is to be a kind of talent agent for his service, making sure the Navy gets exposure and a chance to polish its public image.

  • ROBERT ANDERSON:

    Our mission here is to get the Navy onto the big screen and the little screen every chance we get, with every production that wants to use us. I'll be blatant about it: We're trying to get the Navy out there.

  • SAUL GONZALEZ:

    And what do Hollywood studios want in return for giving the military screen time?

  • KATHY CANHAM ROSS, Army Public Affairs Office:

    Usually, it's equipment. Usually, they're looking for toys.

  • SAUL GONZALEZ:

    Kathy Canham Ross directs the Army's public affairs office in Los Angeles. She says, when it comes to getting access to the latest in military hardware, no Hollywood prop house compares to the Pentagon.

  • KATHY CANHAM ROSS:

    For them, we're a provider. We're a supplier, like everybody else. And Hollywood, they want the real thing. If they can get the real thing, they want the real thing.

  • SAUL GONZALEZ:

    And cooperation doesn't end with hardware. Hollywood often needs active-duty military personnel for technical consultation and even to do on-screen stunts. That was the case in the filming of "Blackhawk Down." That production, shot on location in Morocco, used over a 100 U.S. Army personnel, including elite rangers. These real soldiers did these rappelling scenes and other on-screen combat sequences.

    Of course, the military's cooperation with Hollywood does raise some serous questions and concerns. Namely, is there a point where Uncle Sam's help on a film or television project turns show business into government propaganda?

    DAVID ROBB, Author, "Operation Hollywood": The problem comes in with, who has the creative control over the product? Is it the filmmaker or is it the military?

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