VACANT LOTS Hollywood studios went into lockdown mode Thursday as they received a vague FBI warning about a possible terrorist threat to one of the studios as a response to any U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. The studios, which had already stepped up security in recent days, tightened it even further, blocking off all but the main entrances to their lots, canceling studio tours and screenings, sending away audiences for sitcom tapings, and making provisions for posting armed guards, X-raying all packages received, and installing metal detectors. Nervous employees at Sony and Universal went home.
The FBI released a statement, saying, ”Today the FBI provided a threat advisory to the major movie studios in Los Angeles. The uncorroborated threat states that a film studio in California could be the target of a terrorist bombing attack in retaliation for any possible bombing attacks by the United States against Afghanistan. In an abundance of caution, the FBI has provided this threat advisory. The FBI is working closely with the studios regarding this matter.”
It’s noteworthy that terrorists would target a studio, as if to stop the output of America’s most marketable export. The threat suggests that the terrorists hate America not just for its foreign policy but also the cultural values its movies and TV shows promote (or at least pay lip service to) as they play around the world, values like freedom, openness, tolerance, and equality.
The threat also casts in a new light the question that Emmy producers are mulling: whether to scrap the red-carpet procession at the awards show in two weeks. What might have been done as a gesture of sensitivity now looks like a prudent security measure as well. Along similar lines, it’s good that producers of ”America: A Tribute to Heroes,” tonight’s live, all-star TV benefit, haven’t disclosed the New York and Los Angeles locations from which the show will be broadcast.
PLEDGES OF ALLEGIANCE The latest addition to the all-star roster of ”America: A Tribute to Heroes” is Canadian Celine Dion, who will sing ”God Bless America” and end her 18-month absence from live performance. Others new to the list are U2, Sting, Limp Bizkit, and Enrique Iglesias. Also, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the benefit will be more like a telethon than producers initially indicated; manning the phones to take pledges will be such celebrity volunteers as Cindy Crawford, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, Goldie Hawn, Salma Hayek, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Brad Pitt, Chris Rock, Meg Ryan, Adam Sandler, and Sylvester Stallone. The commercial-free show airs live tonight on 27 broadcast and cable networks, several radio stations, and via webcast on Yahoo!, from 9 to 11 p.m. EDT (8 to 10 p.m. CDT) and on tape delay on outlets in other time zones.