- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Protecting America against terrorist attacks and other disasters requires strong interagency communication and superior intelligence-gathering. Oh, and a little help from Hollywood.

The Homeland Security Department has posted a job for a “liaison to the entertainment industry.” The salary could be as high as $136,000, plus benefits.

The department is creating the job to make sure that dramatic portrayals of it are as accurate as possible, spokesman Dennis Murphy said yesterday.

It’s not a new concept. The Pentagon has been working with TV and film producers for years. Mr. Murphy, in a former position at the Customs Service, provided technical advice to the Oscar-winning film “Traffic.”

The job calls for “providing strategic counsel” to Homeland Security officials when they are asked for help with a film and approving assistance for projects that commit the department to cooperate.

“There can be a tremendous impact on the public with the ability to communicate to people what we’re doing,” Mr. Murphy said. “They’re going to do their movie. We just don’t want it to be silly.”

For example, the FBI has been aided by a number of dramatic portrayals. Among them: actor Robert Stack as heroic FBI agent Eliot Ness in the television series “The Untouchables” and actress Jodie Foster’s determined agent-in-training, Clarice Starling, in the film “The Silence of the Lambs.”

In September, ABC debuted its television series, “Threat Matrix,” a one-hour show about a highly trained, specialized task force that works out of the Homeland Security Department and “fights the many faces of terror,” according to its promotional material. Homeland Security officials declined to comment on the show.

In the past year, the department has been inundated with requests for help on motion pictures and documentaries, spokeswoman Tasiya Scolinos said.

Movies and TV shows could be important recruiting tools for people considering a career in Homeland Security, she said. The CIA recently began airing recruitment ads starring Jennifer Garner, who plays a CIA agent in the ABC series “Alias.”

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