HOLLYWOOD — Not long after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, studio bigwigs and TV honchos attended a Beverly Hills summit with top White House adviser Karl Rove, vowing to fight the good fight and support the war effort.
So what’s become of Hollywood 9/11?
Aside from ferrying hundreds of movies to U.S. troops overseas and producing some low-key PSAs, not much.
Originally, it was a handful of filmmakers and actors reaching out to the Bush administration. They wanted the showbiz war effort to be more creative.
Politics being politics, though, it wasn’t long before industry powerbrokers stepped in, with Paramount’s Sherry Lansing and MPAA president Jack Valenti taking over.
Who, after all, could refuse a chance to make nice with the new Bush administration? (And vice versa?)
Valenti announced that he would head up a new committee, which has come to be called Hollywood 9/11, that would coordinate the war effort. The committee touts more than 40 members, turning the group’s conference call confabs into a crowded party line, with no one really sure who else is on the line.
Some grouse that Valenti usurped the process, and that the original creatives have lost interest. But Hollywood players acknowledge it was almost inevitable that Valenti, Hollywood’s man in Washington, would take charge.
And, as with any good bureaucracy, Hollywood 9/11 divided into subcommittees. The busiest — and least controversial — is the group coordinating shipments of movies to U.S. troops overseas. The White House and Pentagon are immensely appreciative of this particular effort.
But progress on producing public service announcements hasn’t been so easy.
In June, with barely a peep, the subcommittee handling domestic messages released three PSAs for TV and theaters. But there’s no reference to Hollywood 9/11 in any of the three, and the process is said to have taken far longer than it should have.
Developing international PSAs has been much more difficult.
In December, word broke that Hollywood 9/11 was in talks with Muhammad Ali, a Muslim, to produce a PSA destined for Islamic auds overseas. Those talks ultimately broke down.
Still, there is no question that Hollywood 9/11 has led to better relations between entertainment toppers — many of them Democrats — and the Bush administration. In the end, that may be the committee’s most significant legacy.
“Like so many industries, Hollywood has really stepped forward in the aftermath of 9/11 to assist in spreading globally the story of America,” White House spokesman Ken Lisaius says.
If he thinks so, that’s a good sign.