creative freedom

Subscriber Podcast #36 – The LAPD’s Hollywood Office

Just like many federal agencies the Los Angeles Police Department have a dedicated entertainment liaison office for dealing with Hollywood....

Vietnam Bans a Movie, But Somehow It is China’s Fault?

Today's entertainment news features an absolute gem of political hypocrisy: Vietnam's one party 'Communist' state has banned the animated kids' movie Abominable, and the Western media are heralding the decision, claiming that Vietnam are standing up to China's censorious one party 'Communist' state.  This is perhaps the dumbest employmen

From Premises to Character Arcs – How Deeply the Military Rewrites Film & TV

Sometimes the US military's rewriting of scripts is very specific - take out this joke about the US losing in Vietnam, swap this bottle of beer for an energy drink, remove this scene where soldiers set fire to a village and rape all

‘In The Navy’ Songwriter Dead at 82

Co-founder of the Village People and co-writer of 'YMCA', 'Macho Man' and 'In the Navy' Henri Belolo died last saturday at the age of 82.  Born in Casablanca, Belolo was a key member of perhaps the first openly gay disco outfit.  He also participated in one of the funniest co-sponsorship deals the US Navy has ever seen.(

“Shame on them, they know better” – When the Pentagon Fell Out with NCIS

For over a decade the CBS action drama NCIS has enjoyed a very close working relationship with the US military, which allows the entertainment liaison offices to review every script, even for episodes where they provide no

‘I Can Get the Pentagon to Vouch for Me’ – Michael Bay letter to the CIA

Michael Bay is well known for working closely with government agencies when making his films, mostly the Pentagon but also NASA.  Less well known is how he worked with the CIA to vet his script for the Benghazi movie 13 Hours, and how his request to film the

US Army Doesn’t Work on ‘Audience Participation’ TV Due to ‘Spontaneity’

The US Army's regulations on Public Affairs activities are over 100 pages of rules and restriction governing how the Army interacts with news media, entertainment media and other public events.  It outlines which activities require prior approval from Army Public Affairs chiefs (i.e.

The DEA and Breaking Bad: Why Hank Never Tapped Jesse’s Phone

Despite its enormous popularity there are many problems with Breaking Bad - the utterly racist depiction of Mexicans, the glorifying of a sociopathic protagonist and that incredibly boring and pointless fifth season come to mind.  But what has never been discussed before is how the show functions as propaganda for the Dr

ClandesTime 183 – Fields of Fire

Fields of Fire is one of the greatest movies that was never made. A brutal but sympathetic portrait of the Vietnam War, it was denied military support despite being written by a former Secretary of the Navy. This week I examine the story of Fields of Fire using a file from the DOD’s entertainment liaison office.

‘Fuck John Wayne’ – Why the DOD Prevented the movie Fields of Fire from Being Made

When James Webb approached the Pentagon to ask for assistance making his Vietnam war drama Fields of Fire he had every right to expect their support.  A former Marine and short-term Secretary of the Navy he was a military veteran who had written his novel based on his own real-life experiences of V

Black Hawk Down, the LA Riots and Clear and Present Danger

When the producers of Clear and Present Danger approached the Pentagon to ask for military support they probably weren't expecting 6 months of script negotiations to get their film into a shape deemed acceptable by the entertainment liaison offices

‘A Complete Rewrite of the Storyline Would be Required’ – DOD File on The Presidio

1988's The Presidio wanted to film at the real Presidio in San Francisco, an Army installation.  As per usual this required a full military script review, but the DOD responded demanding a 'complete rewrite' before they would approve access to

Forrest Gump – Tom Secker on Fortress on a Hill

Chris and Danny invited me back onto their podcast to discuss the 1994 comedy-drama Forrest Gump.  We talked about the original book by Winston Groom as well as McNamara's 100,000 - a project to recruit troops into the US Army who would normally have fallen below the required standards.  We ho

ClandesTime 167 – Phil Strub’s Greatest Hits

I recently found out that Strub retired from his job as the DOD’s Hollywood liaison last July, though this wasn’t covered by any news outlets and the DOD didn’t bother to tell anyone.

How Many Movies has the Pentagon Prevented from Being Made?

The Pentagon's censorship of movie scripts is fairly well established - I have documented numerous instances on this site. But their ultimate power is the ability to kill a production, to prevent a film being made.

ClandesTime 164 – China’s Influence in Hollywood

China is without doubt a major player in Hollywood. Both private investment and state regulations and censorship have played a significant role in the American movie business in recent years.

The Pentagon’s China Syndrome

While some senior military officials have spoken openly about the possibility of a war between the US and China, the entertainment liaison offices appear to be working to ensure that doesn't happen.

ClandesTime 163 – Nazis in Hollywood

Nazis make the perfect Hollywood villains – instantly recognisable, obviously deplorable and easy to recreate. So why were there no anti-Nazi films until 1939, on the eve of World War 2?