NEW YORK – It's a partnership made in movie heaven — Hollywood insiders in cahoots with White House bigwigs.
If it was on the big screen, Harrison Ford and Gene Hackman might be government officials meeting with eccentric movie execs played by Tim Robbins and Jeff Goldblum. The unlikely group would meet behind closed doors, whisper about the dire state of the nation and classified propaganda films, then solemnly shake on it.
But this is not a movie and the partnership is real — though decidedly less sinister than a Hollywood screenwriter would create.
This weekend, heavies from major movie studios will meet with members of presidential adviser Karl Rove's office in Beverly Hills to discuss Hollywood's role in the war on terrorism, according to a Paramount spokesperson.
"[Executives] are meeting on Sunday with members of the Bush administration to talk about how the entertainment industry can help in the war effort," said the spokesperson, who refused to be named.
White House spokesman Jimmy Orr told Fox News: "Senior adviser Karl Rove will brief studio executives on the war on terror and discuss future projects.
"The White House will share with studio executives the themes we are communicating ... including patriotism, tolerance and courage. The White House has great respect for the creativity of the industry and recognizes its impact and ability to educate at home and abroad, and the White House looks forward to an ongoing constructive dialogue with the industry."
Invitations to the secretive meetings were signed by Jack Valenti, chairman of the Motion Picture Association; Sherry Lansing, chairman of Paramount; and Jonathan Dolgen, chairman of Viacom Entertainment, at the behest of the White House, according to Daily Variety.
Also in attendance will be Viacom's Sumner Redstone and News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch, two of the media's more influential players, the entertainment paper reported.
"By the people who are inviting attendees as well as the fact that Karl Rove is coming, it's obviously a high-level meeting," said Bryce Zabel, chairman of the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences, who plans to attend the meeting.
This is not the first meeting between White House representatives and Hollywood. Last month, government emissaries conducted initial meetings with studio chiefs. Actors, directors and executives traded ideas about how America's creative thinkers could pitch in with the war, but few conclusions were reached.
"It was a meeting where two groups from different cultures … got together around a table and talked about how our country is in a jam," said Bryce Zabel. "It wasn't a meeting where people walked out and said, 'This is our action plan,' but it was a meeting where people walked out and shook hands and said, 'Ok, let's keep talking.'"
While the first meetings were informative, this next round of talks is expected to be much more directed. And this weekend's session will be limited to top-ranking executives.
"Rove wouldn't be coming out unless he had something to say," said Zabel.
Insiders refused to speculate on exactly what the government would suggest, but they are looking to history for clues on what to expect.
"During World War II the entertainment industry was a huge influence in the war effort, and the administration is probably interested in something like that," said the Paramount spokesperson.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, studios made films that projected positive messages about the war, such as This Is the Army.
Today, Hollywood is much more cautious about its independence, but as Zabel pointed out, the entertainment industry has mobilized to create numerous benefits, special TV episodes and patriotic events without any urging from the government.
"This doesn't have to be dictated by anyone," said Zabel. "Everyone here, artistically and creatively, is turning their minds to [the war effort] without anyone telling them to."
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