documents

US Coast Guard’s Hollywood Office Takes 3 YEARS to Release 20 Pages of Documents

In March 2016 I put in a FOIA request with the US Coast Guard.  Several appeals, a lot of ignored emails and well over three years later they finally released just 20 pages of documents on the activities of their entertai

ClandesTime 196 – The Final Countdown

The Final Countdown is a classic of good bad cinema, featuring an aircraft carrier that goes through a wormhole and goes back in time to the day before Pearl Harbor was attacked. In this episode I review and analyse the film, which benefited from full DOD support.

MI5 (Wrongly) Suspected Odeon Cinema Chain of Being Front for Commie Spies

A 1940s MI5 file shows that British intelligence suspected that the Odeon chain of cinemas was a front organisation providing cover for Soviet spies to get into the UK.  Proving once again that it is the intelligence services who are the bigge

Ex-MI6 Boss Blasts Le Carré’s Spy Novels, Even Though MI6 Vetted Most of Them

Former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove has criticised spy author John Le Carré for his 'nihilistic' and 'corrosive' view of British intelligence, even though Le Carré submitted all of his early novels to MI6 for them to review prior to publication.  This appears

Even the US Army Warned of Violence at the Joker Premiere But So Far, So Good

For weeks the internet has been awash with claims, rumours, scuttlebutt and hearsay about some kind of shooting at the premiere of the new Joker movie.  Even the US Army sent out a memo saying they'd received a 'credible threat

Napalm, Ambushes and Russian Roulette: Why the Pentagon Rejected The Deer Hunter

The epic war drama The Deer Hunter won five Oscars, despite the central conceit and metaphor of the film being inaccurate.  This conceit - that the Viet Cong forced American prisoners of war to play Russian Roulette - is the main reason the f

ROI: Does the Pentagon Fund Movies?

One of the most common conspiracy theories you hear in this line of research is that the Pentagon and CIA fund Hollywood movies.  This isn't entirely untrue - the CIA covertly funded productions of Animal Farm and 1984 in the early Cold War period - but on the whole, it is untrue.  In all the many thousands of documen

Revolving Doors: Technical Advisors and The Entertainment-Propaganda Complex

The role of the technical advisor is crucial to understanding the military-Hollywood relationship, but very few people know who these people are or what they do.  Even less well known is that a significant number of private industry techni

The US Navy Supported Captain Phillips – One of the Most Inaccurate Movies I’ve Ever Seen

Captain Phillips tells the story of the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama - a US container ship - off the coast of Somalia, and the subsequent US Navy intervention that killed three of the pirates and arrested the fourth.  It is also one of the least historically accurate films

Act of Valor: When the US Navy Commissioned one of the Worst Films Ever Made

2012's Act of Valor is widely recognised as the terrible, dull, depressing, futile piece of cinema that it surely is, but what is less well-recognised is that it was the brainchild of the US Navy's Special Warfare Recruiting Directorate, and they h

The DOD and Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor is a piece of absolute militaristic schlock, starring the whiny-voiced Marky Mark Wahlberg as Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell - the only survivor of Operation Red Wings, a 2005 special forces joint operation in the summer of 2005.  Over 100 pages of Navy documents show their heavy involvement in the film and how they covered

How the Pentagon Rewrote GI Jane

GI Jane is a crude, clumsy attempt to show a 'woman's perspective' on being in the military, that ruined Demi Moore's career as a leading lady.  Little known until now is how the Pentagon negotiated with Ridley Scott to rewrite the script, and even though the film didn't qualify for military support some of the scr

Clint Eastwood and the Geneva Conventions

One issue that comes up repeatedly in the script changes enforced by the Pentagon is war crimes, and other violations of the Geneva Conventions.  As is so often the case I'm left thinking 'if only the DOD applied the same rules to real life wars as they do to the depiction of wars i

Schlock ex Machina – Is Godzilla: King of the Monsters the Dumbest Movie Ever?

I was looking forward to Godzilla: King of the Monsters, having been a fan of giant creature features since I was a young boy.  The blend of massive-scale action and affirming our need to respect nature is a winning combination for me.  Then I watched it

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

Why Amazon’s The Boys is the Most Subversive TV Show of the Year

Amazon Prime's The Boys is not only the most enjoyable TV show I've seen all year, it's also the most subversive.  While it will appeal to audiences suffering from superhero fatigue after more than a decade of relentless Marvel and DC products, it is so much mo

‘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.(

‘You Need to Keep an Eye on the Director’ – US Army emails

The US Army's emails on The Long Road Home show that not everything ran smoothly while filming progressed as Fort Hood.  While all of the information on script input is redacted, one email contains production notes from the Army's project officer Lt Col.

Documents: CIA Successfully Pressured Michael Bay To Change Benghazi Movie

I recently obtained 50 pages of documents from the CIA on the support they provided to Michael Bay's Benghazi movie 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.  In this investigation for Shadowproof I outline how the relationship between Bay and the Agen

The Beirut Marine Barracks Bombing and Heartbreak Ridge

The US military's negotiations on the 1980s Clint Eastwood vehicle Heartbreak Ridge were protracted and complex, resulting in numerous changes before the movie could be approved for Pentagon support.  This included changing Clint Eastwood's character from a so

“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

‘We are Anxious to tell this Story that Showcases the Army in such a Positive Way’

The in-development film Raven Four-Two tells the story of a battle in 2005 between insurgents and a Kentucky Army National Guard Military Police Unit, during the war in Iraq.  Documents released by

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

The Rebooted Designated Survivor: Sponsored by the CIA?

The soft reboot of the political drama Designated Survivor recently dropped on Netflix and in spite of Kiefer Sutherland making the least convincing president since Sarah Palin it is a considerable improvement on the first two seasons.

‘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

The FBI and DEA Spy on Hollywood Producers

The relationship between intelligence agencies and the entertainment industry is complex and multi-faceted.  Angles include the influence of the agencies on their own public image, the influence of entertainment on the agencies, and intelligence-gathering by those agencies on the culture industry.

The DEA and the Entertainment Industry: Spying, Censorship and Control

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently released nearly 200 pages of contracts between themselves and entertainment producers, which for the first time shed light on how they interact with Hollywood.

Top Secret CIA Emails on Osama bin Laden ‘Devil Doll’

In 2014 the Washington Post's Adam Goldman published a story about the CIA producing dolls of Osama bin Laden as part of an influence operation designed to diminish the former Al Qaeda's leader's popularity in the Middle East.  The dolls would be made so the paint on the eyes would easily rub off, revealing 'devil eyes' underneath.

‘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

‘The Script was Entertaining but very Sophmorish’ – FBI Deputy Director on The X-Files

In 1998 retired FBI deputy director Cartha DeLoach was asked by the producers of The X-Files to review the script for an episode of the show that was set in the 1950s.  The FBI recently released DeLoach's response to the producers, where he branded t

Why Did the Pentagon Support Godzilla and Transformers, but Rejected Jarhead?

The 2005 biographical war film Jarhead is one of a very small number of films set in the first Gulf War.  Despite being based on the autobiography of a Marine who served in Desert Storm the DOD refused to provide it with military support. 

How the Pentagon Rewrote Man of Steel

The Superman reboot Man of Steel launched the (now abandoned) DC Extended Universe, and put a much darker tinge on the Superman franchise than any previous incarnation, especially the Christopher Reeve classics.  Man of Steel benefited from large-scale support from the military, but hidden until now are the d

The Pentagon, Superman and the Freedom of Information Act

In 1977 the producers of Superman and Superman II approached the Pentagon to try to obtain stock footage of missiles launching, for use in depicting Lex Luthor's dastardly plot to nuke the San Andreas fault.  The Air Force and Strategic Air Command were provided