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Tom Cruise, Propaganda & Patriotism

Will Hollywood join forces with the White House to contribute to the war effort in Afghanistan?

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Could Tom Cruise‘s next mission be urging moviegoers to volunteer? At a Nov. 11 summit in Beverly Hills, more than 40 Hollywood heavyweights—including heads of almost every major studio, network, and performance guild—met with White House senior adviser Karl Rove to discuss how the industry could contribute to the war effort in Afghanistan. For starters, studios agreed to send first-run movies to troops overseas, likely beginning this month, and to produce multilingual public service announcements and trailers. But both sides insist that Hollywood’s enlistment won’t involve propaganda—or any Washington influence on entertainment content. ”It’s the province of directors, producers, and studios to determine what kind of films they would make,” says Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America. Still, Hollywood execs signed on to a Rove-proposed list of seven ideals, such as promoting volunteerism and supporting U.S. troops, that will be developed in more detail in coming months. But do notoriously liberal industryites feel comfortable being drafted by a Republican administration? ”This meeting wasn’t about content or the politics of war,” says Paramount chairman and longtime Democrat Sherry Lansing. ”It was just a group of people united against a common enemy, and that enemy is terrorism.”