Is Hollywood Too Timid on Terrorism?

That’s a question you would take away from an event last week by Steve Emerson, a former CNN investigative journalist turned counter-terrorism expert.

He screened parts of his unfinished doc “Grand Deception” at a CAA auditorium on Thursday where he questioned the media’s depiction of the threat of Islamic radicalism.

“I’m on a PR battle,” admitted the filmmaker. “I’m getting people angry.”

Hosted by Gary Sinise and Matt DelPiano, and organized by the American Cinema Foundation, the event drew Jon Voight, Larry Elder, Tom Selleck, Rob Long, Roger L. Simon and Lionel Chetwynd, among others. Although the event had a center/right tilt to it, marked in a left-leaning town, since 9/11 some industry figures have switched their political stripes, citing concerns over security and terrorism.

The doc focuses on the influence that Islamist extremist groups hold over the U.S. government and the media. In Emerson’s view, recent film releases and news reports often are pro-terrorist or white-washed, because execs fear being targeted by extremist groups.

During a Q&A afterward, Emerson was very vocal about what he characterized as the hypocrisy of journalists and the “political cowardess” of Hollywood studios toward extremists.

“The media has fallen down in a sinister way,” he said.

He made his case in a clip from the documentary. In it, it shows how pics like “Sum of All Fears” and “Rules of Engagement” were attacked by groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations for depicting Arabs in a negative light and perpetuating racist stereotypes. Since 9/11, the doc explains, the pressures from Islamic groups have intensified, coercing studios into self censorship when the subject matter is too “politically sensitive,” Emerson explained.

Emerson said that he hopes to get funding to wrap up the film in time for the next presidential election — which, by the way, he describes as a “tragedy in the making.”

—Elsa Bertet

More Voices

  • RWS Entertainment Group Marquee Holland America

    RWS Entertainment Launches Theatrical Development Department (EXCLUSIVE)

    That’s a question you would take away from an event last week by Steve Emerson, a former CNN investigative journalist turned counter-terrorism expert. He screened parts of his unfinished doc “Grand Deception” at a CAA auditorium on Thursday where he questioned the media’s depiction of the threat of Islamic radicalism. “I’m on a PR battle,” […]

  • Hamilton West End Production.

    ‘Hamilton,’ Broadway and the Duel Over Paperless Tickets

    That’s a question you would take away from an event last week by Steve Emerson, a former CNN investigative journalist turned counter-terrorism expert. He screened parts of his unfinished doc “Grand Deception” at a CAA auditorium on Thursday where he questioned the media’s depiction of the threat of Islamic radicalism. “I’m on a PR battle,” […]

  • HadestownNew York Theatre WorkshopBy Anaïs MitchellDeveloped

    Streaming to Broadway: How New Titles, Talent Grow Buzz Online

    That’s a question you would take away from an event last week by Steve Emerson, a former CNN investigative journalist turned counter-terrorism expert. He screened parts of his unfinished doc “Grand Deception” at a CAA auditorium on Thursday where he questioned the media’s depiction of the threat of Islamic radicalism. “I’m on a PR battle,” […]

  • Randall Arney Geffen Playhouse

    What No NYC Nonprofit Theater Likes to Talk About

    That’s a question you would take away from an event last week by Steve Emerson, a former CNN investigative journalist turned counter-terrorism expert. He screened parts of his unfinished doc “Grand Deception” at a CAA auditorium on Thursday where he questioned the media’s depiction of the threat of Islamic radicalism. “I’m on a PR battle,” […]

  • The Lion King Broadway

    How 'The Lion King' Ushered in the Era of the Blockbuster on Broadway

    That’s a question you would take away from an event last week by Steve Emerson, a former CNN investigative journalist turned counter-terrorism expert. He screened parts of his unfinished doc “Grand Deception” at a CAA auditorium on Thursday where he questioned the media’s depiction of the threat of Islamic radicalism. “I’m on a PR battle,” […]

  • Kevin Spacey Clarance Darrow Broadway

    Broadway Gets Serious About Sexual Harassment

    That’s a question you would take away from an event last week by Steve Emerson, a former CNN investigative journalist turned counter-terrorism expert. He screened parts of his unfinished doc “Grand Deception” at a CAA auditorium on Thursday where he questioned the media’s depiction of the threat of Islamic radicalism. “I’m on a PR battle,” […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content