Thursday, March 11, 2004

More on the Department of Homeland Security TV series. Get this, "Christian faith" is a central element of the show, with the President and various police agents routinely kneeling and bowing in prayer. Canada here I come...

Homeland security meets home theater
New show lauding Bush slated for fall premiere
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff, 2/28/2004
WASHINGTON -- A Hollywood producer says he is set to air a new hybrid reality-fiction TV show glorifying the Department of Homeland Security and President Bush's counterterrorism efforts this fall, just before the presidential election.
Now in pilot production with eight episodes scheduled, "DHS: The Series" will follow two Homeland Security special agents on dangerous assignments. As in the recent HBO series "K Street," real-life law enforcement figures will appear in fictional plots, said Joseph M. Medawar, a producer with Steeple Distributions Inc.
"It has become a passion to educate the public through a series taking two agents . . . [who] put themselves on the line to serve this great country of ours and to protect us from the threat of terrorism," he said.
A trailer for the show opens with a voiceover from a Bush speech delivered after the Al Qaeda attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. It then asks "How do we know . . . that we are truly . . . safe?" before jumping through fast-cut images such as satellites, car chases, a 911 center, explosions, fighter jets, evacuations, a gun-toting jihadist, and Osama bin Laden.
The series became an instant conversation topic in Washington yesterday after an E! Online report quoted producers as saying the show had been endorsed by Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, both of whom "contributed sound bites" and offered high-level access extending to the White House itself.
The report raised eyebrows because the Bush-Cheney campaign intends to make the president's "war on terrorism" a central prong in his reelection strategy. Pushing a pseudoreality show on that subject as the campaign enters its final stretch would be unprecedented.
But spokesmen for the White House and Department of Homeland Security said they had no knowledge of the show, though they noted that the administration has called upon Hollywood to produce homeland security-related shows -- and has worked with the TV show "Threat Matrix" among others.
Medawar, however, insisted that he has met with both Ridge and Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchison during recent trips by the officials to California. He also said US Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, has been a "great ally" who "started the introduction to President Bush." A spokesman for Rohrabacher confirmed he was helping out as a "friendly adviser," though he said that meant telling them how to get access more than actually making calls himself.
Series co-star Alison Waterbury -- who said her preparation included a three-day course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia and a trip to Israel, where she witnessed a suicide bombing -- added that the cast received a photograph back from Bush and a short note of encouragement and that they briefed the president's wife during a recent trip to California.
"I've met with first lady Laura Bush and briefly ran the idea by her," she said. "She was very interested in it, but didn't make any comment."
Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, confirmed that the show had filmed in an emergency call center and elsewhere.
Medawar -- whose production credits include the 1992 Stephen King film "Sleepwalkers" and 1986's "Hardbodies 2" -- dismissed any suggestion that the show has a political agenda, but said he is a staunch Bush supporter. "I think he's a great man, and he's done an unbelievable job for our country. He's a man of faith. He believes in God."
One poster for the series uses a picture of Bush and his Cabinet members with their heads bowed in prayer. Medawar said Christianity will be a central element of the show, whose trailer has an agent saying, "Hey Johnny, do me a favor -- say a prayer," as he runs into a hostage situation.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.

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