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Hollywood turning into cesspit plagued by junkies and violent criminals

Hollywood’s Apocalypse NOW:

Rich and famous are fleeing in droves

By CAROLINE GRAHAM . 

Gold’s Gym has become synonymous with the Hollywood Dream.

Set just a few hundred yards from the ocean in sun-kissed Venice Beach, Los Angeles, Gold’s was the backdrop for Pumping Iron

This 1977 documentary followed a young, unknown Austrian bodybuilder called Arnold Schwarzenegger as he prepared for the Mr. Universe contest.

The film turned him into an overnight sensation.

He would go on to become a global superstar, marry a member of the Kennedy clan, and become Governor of California

A makeshift tent city made up of flapping tarpaulins and cardboard boxes surrounds the gym on all sides.

Junkies and the homeless, many of whom are clearly mentally ill, walk the palm-lined streets like zombies – all just three blocks from multi-million-dollar homes overlooking the Pacific.

Stolen bicycles are piled high on pavements littered with broken syringes.

TV bulletins are filled with horror stories from across the city.

Of women being attacked during their morning jog or residents returning home to find strangers defecating in their front gardens.

Los Angeles is a city on the brink. ‘For Sale’ signs are seemingly dotted on every suburban street as the middle classes, particularly those with families, flee for the safer suburbs, with many choosing to leave LA altogether.

British-born Danny O’Brien runs Watford Moving & Storage. ‘There is a mass exodus from Hollywood. And a lot of it is to do with politics.’ His business is booming. ‘August has already set records and we are only halfway through the month’

‘People are getting out in droves. from LA. Last week I moved a prominent person in the music industry from a $6.5 million [£5 million] mansion above Sunset Boulevard to Nashville.’

‘The homeless encampments are legal and there’s nothing the police can do. White, affluent middle-class folk are getting out. People don’t feel safe any more.’

O’Brien, 58, who moved to LA from London 34 years ago, is also planning to move to Tennessee.

A homeless man on Hollywood¿s Walk Of Fame. Junkies and the homeless, many of whom are clearly mentally ill, walk the palm-lined streets like zombies ¿ all just three blocks from multi-million-dollar homes overlooking the Pacific

A homeless man on Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame. Junkies and the homeless, many of whom are clearly mentally ill, walk the palm-lined streets like zombies – all just three blocks from multi-million-dollar homes overlooking the Pacific

With movie studios still shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic and businesses only just starting to remove the wooden boards put up after city-wide rioting following the death of George Floyd while being arrested by three white officers in Minneapolis, LA is now in the grip of white flight.

Lou Ferrigno became friends with Schwarzenegger when both worked out at Gold’s. While he might not be quite a household name like Arnie, Ferrigno starred in the TV series The Incredible Hulk and became one of the wealthiest bodybuilders in the world, with a fortune of $12 million.

President Donald Trump appointed him to his council on fitness, sports and nutrition in 2018.

But Ferrigno, for all his impeccable connections, has become fed up with what he describes as the ‘dramatic decline’ in LA. He and wife Carla recently sold their £3 million home in Santa Monica and moved into a 7,146 sq ft mansion two hours north of LA.

Carla says: ‘One morning around 7am I opened the curtains in our beautiful Santa Monica home and looking up at me from our driveway were three gang members with tattoos on their faces sitting on our retaining wall. They were cat-calling me and being vulgar. I motioned I was going to call the police and they just laughed, flicking their tongues at me and showing me their guns.’

Her husband added: ‘We put the house up for sale after 40 wonderful years and moved north. We feel lucky to have made it out. Now we are in a wonderful place and very happy.’

Renee Taylor, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and actress who appeared in the hit TV sitcom The Nanny, recently sold her Beverly Hills home after half a century and moved to the East Coast.

‘I feel so sad for my friends left in Beverly Hills who had to suffer through looting and rioting,’ she says. ‘I got out just in time.’

The virus only made matters worse. There are homeless encampments in some of the most instantly recognisable tourist traps.

Stretches of Hollywood Boulevard – embedded with glittering stars representing those who achieved their dream of fame and fortune – resemble a Third World shanty town rather than the heart of America’s second-largest city.

Outside the Chinese Theatre where Marilyn Monroe and other screen icons are immortalised by their handprints in concrete, the Michael Jackson and Superman look alikes who usually pose with tourists have been replaced by vagrants begging for change.Hundreds of LA’s homeless are still without protection

One of the city¿s homeless ¿ there are more than 66,000 people sleeping rough every night. The virus only made matters worse. There are homeless encampments in some of the most instantly recognisable tourist traps

One of the city’s homeless – there are more than 66,000 people sleeping rough every night. 

The virus Covid-19 only made matters worse. There are homeless encampments in some of the most instantly recognisable tourist traps

Meanwhile, the visitors snap photos of a large Black Lives Matter logo painted down the middle of the street.

Car parks beside the beach in Santa Monica – a popular tourist destination for Britons – are filled with bashed-up motorhomes, each housing several people.

The authorities have even put portable toilets on the streets to try to stop the homeless relieving themselves on private property.

The Westwood area of LA, home to some of the most upmarket blocks of flats in the city, has been renamed ‘West Hood’ by locals appalled by rising crime.

Veteran publicist Ed Lozzi says: ‘The city was changing before coronavirus brought us to our knees. The homeless problem has been escalating for years, exacerbated by weak politicians making bad decisions.

‘Hollywood has always been the wokest of the woke, so politicians have done nothing to stop people sleeping on the streets. It’s not illegal and the weather’s nice, so they keep coming.

‘There is insufficient housing, inadequate mental health care. Add in Covid and it’s a perfect storm.

‘When I first arrived in LA 40 years ago, the town smelled of orange blossoms. Now the streets stink of urine. There is a beautiful park in Westwood but you can’t go there because there are people slumped on the ground and you step on a carpet of needles.

‘White flight is real. The elites and middle classes are leaving. People are taking losses on the sales of their homes to get out.’

The divide between rich and poor has never been more glaring.

Just yards away from Gold’s sits the sprawling LA headquarters of internet giant Google.

The car park is housed in a building designed by architect Frank Gehry to look like a giant pair of binoculars.

Private security guards wander round as a handful of employees returning after lockdown drive into the complex in their Teslas, Porsches and Range Rovers.

Charity worker Robert (he declined to give his last name) mans two portable toilets opposite the Google HQ. Recently released from jail, this menial job is the only work he can get. He says two people have overdosed in the toilets in the past two weeks.

‘I have a Narcan pen which brings them back to life after they overdose on opioids. I’ve had to use the pen twice since the beginning of August.

‘The situation is terrible. I don’t blame those who can afford to get out of the city for doing so.’

Some 66,000 people now sleep rough every night in LA – up 12.5 per cent on last year.

‘There’s no hope any more. The rich are getting richer and there’s nothing for those on Skid Row. Trump has done nothing to help the poor. All he cares about are his rich friends making more money. If I had money I’d get out too.’

The pandemic has made many in Hollywood realise they don’t need to live in LA – or anywhere near it – to keep working.

Talent manager Craig Dorfman has moved to upstate New York. ‘A lot of people in the industry are re-evaluating their lives and saying,

‘You know, I never really loved LA. Where would I like to live? Because I can do what I want to do from anywhere,’ ‘ says Dorfman.

Fashion stylist Leah Forester and her film producer husband Bill Johnson have rented out their home and moved to the Mexican beach town of Careyes with their two children.

‘We wanted to be in the most healthy, supportive and serene environment we could be in so that we could have some sense of control over our immediate surroundings and our destiny,’ says Forester.

Comedian Joe Rogan, who makes $30 million a year from his self-titled podcast, has quit LA for Texas and says: ‘When you look at the traffic, when you look at the economic despair, when you look at the homelessness problem that’s accelerated radically… I think there are too many people here.

‘I think it’s not tenable. I don’t think that it’s manageable.’

Ironically, the celebrity enclave of Malibu – home to such leading members of the ‘wokerati’ as Leonardo DiCaprio – has cracked down hard on the homeless, bringing in local laws to prevent people parking their motorhomes along the beach overnight.

‘They’ve kicked the homeless problem into other areas of the city like Westwood and Venice,’ says publicist Ed Lozzi. ‘It’s a classic case of ‘not in my back yard’.’

Meanwhile, some of Tinseltown’s biggest stars are developing back-up plans, should the situation worsen. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson recently took Greek citizenship and have told friends they intend to spend more time in Europe.Skid Row residents force Eyewitness News van to turn around

More tents in Melrose Place, one of the trendiest addresses in Los Angeles. Stretches of Hollywood Boulevard ¿ embedded with glittering stars representing those who achieved their dream of fame and fortune ¿ resemble a Third World shanty town rather than the heart of America's second-largest city

More tents in Melrose Place, one of the trendiest addresses in Los Angeles. Stretches of Hollywood Boulevard – embedded with glittering stars representing those who achieved their dream of fame and fortune – resemble a Third World shanty town rather than the heart of America’s second-largest city

Producer Dana Brunetti, business partner of disgraced actor Kevin Spacey and producer of the Fifty Shades Of Grey films, has acquired Italian citizenship ‘because Italy is part of the EU – it gives me a lot of options if the s*** hits the fan’.

Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban have homes in LA, Nashville and her native Australia.

A source says: ‘They have been spending a lot of time in Nashville. There they can give their kids a more normal upbringing. They have been talking about getting rid of the LA place.’

When the news broke last week that Prince Harry and Meghan have chosen to make their home two hours north of LA in the upmarket hamlet of Montecito, the news shocked no one.

One Oscar-nominated writer told me: ‘They saw enough of LA those times they left Tyler Perry’s house to make them not want to raise Archie in a place like this. LA has always attracted beautiful and talented people from around the world who come here looking for fame or money or both.

‘Now the streets look like Haiti after the earthquake. It’s dirty, dangerous and work has dried up. Even when studios start to open up, people will choose to work from other places.’

The most recent high-profile name to quit Hollywood is Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, a darling of the showbusiness crowd.

Actor Robert Downey Jr has said it was Musk who inspired his portrayal of Tony Stark, the eccentric billionaire inventor in the Iron Man movies.

Elon Musk has recently sold his compound of 4 homes in Bel Air for a combined total of $62 million (£47 million) and is said to be considering a move to Texas, where he is building Tesla’s $1 billion new factory.

‘When the real-life Iron Man moves out of Hollywood, you know it’s all over,’ says a source at one of the major studio

Note: San Francisco was in no better shape in 1991-92. Homeless people crowded all the main streets. It was no longer a pleasure to walk the streets toward the many parks. I had visited West Hollywood in 1976 and walked to Beverly Hills and it was clean and nice to walk to.

City of Dreams into cesspit plagued by junkies and violent criminals

Hollywood’s Apocalypse NOW:

Rich and famous are fleeing in droves as liberal politics and coronavirus turn City of Dreams into cesspit plagued by junkies and violent criminals

Gold’s Gym has become synonymous with the Hollywood Dream.

Set just a few hundred yards from the ocean in sun-kissed Venice Beach, Los Angeles, Gold’s was the backdrop for Pumping Iron, the 1977 documentary which followed a young, unknown Austrian bodybuilder called Arnold Schwarzenegger as he prepared for the Mr Universe contest.

The film turned him into an overnight sensation.

He would go on to become a global superstar, marry a member of the Kennedy clan, and become Governor of California

A makeshift tent city made up of flapping tarpaulins and cardboard boxes surrounds the gym on all sides.

Junkies and the homeless, many of whom are clearly mentally ill, walk the palm-lined streets like zombies – all just three blocks from multi-million-dollar homes overlooking the Pacific.

Stolen bicycles are piled high on pavements littered with broken syringes.

TV bulletins are filled with horror stories from across the city; of women being attacked during their morning jog or residents returning home to find strangers defecating in their front gardens.

Today, Los Angeles is a city on the brink. ‘For Sale’ signs are seemingly dotted on every suburban street as the middle classes, particularly those with families, flee for the safer suburbs, with many choosing to leave LA altogether.

British-born Danny O’Brien runs Watford Moving & Storage. ‘There is a mass exodus from Hollywood,’ he says.

‘And a lot of it is to do with politics.’ His business is booming. ‘August has already set records and we are only halfway through the month,’ he tells me.

‘People are getting out in droves. Last week I moved a prominent person in the music industry from a $6.5 million [£5 million] mansion above Sunset Boulevard to Nashville.’

A homeless man on Hollywood¿s Walk Of Fame. Junkies and the homeless, many of whom are clearly mentally ill, walk the palm-lined streets like zombies ¿ all just three blocks from multi-million-dollar homes overlooking the Pacific

A homeless man on Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame. Junkies and the homeless, many of whom are clearly mentally ill, walk the palm-lined streets like zombies – all just three blocks from multi-million-dollar homes overlooking the Pacific

O’Brien, 58, who moved to LA from London 34 years ago, is also planning to move to Tennessee.

‘Liberal politics has destroyed this city,’ he says.

‘The homeless encampments are legal and there’s nothing the police can do. White, affluent middle-class folk are getting out. People don’t feel safe any more.’

With movie studios still shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic and businesses only just starting to remove the wooden boards put up after city-wide rioting following the death of George Floyd while being arrested by three white officers in Minneapolis, LA is now in the grip of white flight.

Lou Ferrigno became friends with Schwarzenegger when both worked out at Gold’s. While he might not be quite a household name like Arnie, Ferrigno starred in the TV series The Incredible Hulk and became one of the wealthiest bodybuilders in the world, with a fortune of $12 million.

President Donald Trump appointed him to his council on fitness, sports and nutrition in 2018.

But Ferrigno, for all his impeccable connections, has become fed up with what he describes as the ‘dramatic decline’ in LA. He and wife Carla recently sold their £3 million home in Santa Monica and moved into a 7,146 sq ft mansion two hours north of LA.

Carla says: ‘One morning around 7am I opened the curtains in our beautiful Santa Monica home and looking up at me from our driveway were three gang members with tattoos on their faces sitting on our retaining wall. They were cat-calling me and being vulgar. I motioned I was going to call the police and they just laughed, flicking their tongues at me and showing me their guns.’

Her husband added: ‘We put the house up for sale after 40 wonderful years and moved north. We feel lucky to have made it out. Now we are in a wonderful place and very happy.’

Renee Taylor, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and actress who appeared in the hit TV sitcom The Nanny, recently sold her Beverly Hills home after half a century and moved to the East Coast.

‘I feel so sad for my friends left in Beverly Hills who had to suffer through looting and rioting,’ she says. ‘I got out just in time.’

The virus only made matters worse. There are homeless encampments in some of the most instantly recognisable tourist traps.

Stretches of Hollywood Boulevard – embedded with glittering stars representing those who achieved their dream of fame and fortune – resemble a Third World shanty town rather than the heart of America’s second-largest city.

Outside the Chinese Theatre where Marilyn Monroe and other screen icons are immortalised by their handprints in concrete, the Michael Jackson and Superman look alikes who usually pose with tourists have been replaced by vagrants begging for change.

Hundreds of LA’s homeless are still without protection
One of the city¿s homeless ¿ there are more than 66,000 people sleeping rough every night. The virus only made matters worse. There are homeless encampments in some of the most instantly recognisable tourist traps

One of the city’s homeless – there are more than 66,000 people sleeping rough every night. The virus only made matters worse. There are homeless encampments in some of the most instantly recognisable tourist traps

Meanwhile, the visitors snap photos of a large Black Lives Matter logo painted down the middle of the street.

Car parks beside the beach in Santa Monica – a popular tourist destination for Britons – are filled with bashed-up motorhomes, each housing several people.

The authorities have even put portable toilets on the streets to try to stop the homeless relieving themselves on private property.

The Westwood area of LA, home to some of the most upmarket blocks of flats in the city, has been renamed ‘West Hood’ by locals appalled by rising crime.

Veteran publicist Ed Lozzi says: ‘The city was changing before coronavirus brought us to our knees. The homeless problem has been escalating for years, exacerbated by weak politicians making bad decisions.

‘Hollywood has always been the wokest of the woke, so politicians have done nothing to stop people sleeping on the streets. It’s not illegal and the weather’s nice, so they keep coming.

‘There is insufficient housing, inadequate mental health care. Add in Covid and it’s a perfect storm.

‘When I first arrived in LA 40 years ago, the town smelled of orange blossoms. Now the streets stink of urine. There is a beautiful park in Westwood but you can’t go there because there are people slumped on the ground and you step on a carpet of needles.

‘White flight is real. The elites and middle classes are leaving. People are taking losses on the sales of their homes to get out.’

The divide between rich and poor has never been more glaring. Just yards away from Gold’s sits the sprawling LA headquarters of internet giant Google.

The car park is housed in a building designed by architect Frank Gehry to look like a giant pair of binoculars. Private security guards wander round as a handful of employees returning after lockdown drive into the complex in their Teslas, Porsches and Range Rovers.

Charity worker Robert (he declined to give his last name) mans two portable toilets opposite the Google HQ. Recently released from jail, this menial job is the only work he can get. He says two people have overdosed in the toilets in the past two weeks.

‘I have a Narcan pen which brings them back to life after they overdose on opioids. I’ve had to use the pen twice since the beginning of August.

‘The situation is terrible. I don’t blame those who can afford to get out of the city for doing so.’

Some 66,000 people now sleep rough every night in LA – up 12.5 per cent on last year.

‘There’s no hope any more,’ he continues. ‘The rich are getting richer and there’s nothing for those on Skid Row. Trump has done nothing to help the poor. All he cares about are his rich friends making more money. If I had money I’d get out too.’

The pandemic has made many in Hollywood realise they don’t need to live in LA – or anywhere near it – to keep working.

Talent manager Craig Dorfman has moved to upstate New York. ‘A lot of people in the industry are re-evaluating their lives and saying,

‘You know, I never really loved LA. Where would I like to live? Because I can do what I want to do from anywhere,’ ‘ says Dorfman.

Fashion stylist Leah Forester and her film producer husband Bill Johnson have rented out their home and moved to the Mexican beach town of Careyes with their two children.

‘We wanted to be in the most healthy, supportive and serene environment we could be in so that we could have some sense of control over our immediate surroundings and our destiny,’ says Forester.

Comedian Joe Rogan, who makes $30 million a year from his self-titled podcast, has quit LA for Texas and says: ‘When you look at the traffic, when you look at the economic despair, when you look at the homelessness problem that’s accelerated radically… I think there are too many people here.

‘I think it’s not tenable. I don’t think that it’s manageable.’

Ironically, the celebrity enclave of Malibu – home to such leading members of the ‘wokerati’ as Leonardo DiCaprio – has cracked down hard on the homeless, bringing in local laws to prevent people parking their motorhomes along the beach overnight.

‘They’ve kicked the homeless problem into other areas of the city like Westwood and Venice,’ says publicist Ed Lozzi. ‘It’s a classic case of ‘not in my back yard’.’

Meanwhile, some of Tinseltown’s biggest stars are developing back-up plans, should the situation worsen. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson recently took Greek citizenship and have told friends they intend to spend more time in Europe.

Skid Row residents force Eyewitness News van to turn around
More tents in Melrose Place, one of the trendiest addresses in Los Angeles. Stretches of Hollywood Boulevard ¿ embedded with glittering stars representing those who achieved their dream of fame and fortune ¿ resemble a Third World shanty town rather than the heart of America's second-largest city

More tents in Melrose Place, one of the trendiest addresses in Los Angeles. Stretches of Hollywood Boulevard – embedded with glittering stars representing those who achieved their dream of fame and fortune – resemble a Third World shanty town rather than the heart of America’s second-largest city

Producer Dana Brunetti, business partner of disgraced actor Kevin Spacey and producer of the Fifty Shades Of Grey films, has acquired Italian citizenship ‘because Italy is part of the EU – it gives me a lot of options if the s*** hits the fan’.

Nicole Kidman and husband Keith Urban have homes in LA, Nashville and her native Australia.

A source says: ‘They have been spending a lot of time in Nashville. There they can give their kids a more normal upbringing. They have been talking about getting rid of the LA place.’

When the news broke last week that Prince Harry and Meghan have chosen to make their home two hours north of LA in the upmarket hamlet of Montecito, the news shocked no one.

One Oscar-nominated writer told me: ‘They saw enough of LA those times they left Tyler Perry’s house to make them not want to raise Archie in a place like this. LA has always attracted beautiful and talented people from around the world who come here looking for fame or money or both.

‘Now the streets look like Haiti after the earthquake. It’s dirty, dangerous and work has dried up. Even when studios start to open up, people will choose to work from other places.’

The most recent high-profile name to quit Hollywood is Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, a darling of the showbusiness crowd.

Actor Robert Downey Jr has said it was Musk who inspired his portrayal of Tony Stark, the eccentric billionaire inventor in the Iron Man movies.

Elon Musk has recently sold his compound of 4 homes in Bel Air for a combined total of $62 million (£47 million) and is said to be considering a move to Texas, where he is building Tesla’s $1 billion new factory.

‘When the real-life Iron Man moves out of Hollywood, you know it’s all over,’ says a source at one of the major studio

Note: San Francisco was in no better shape in 1991-92. Homeless people crowded all the main streets. It was no longer a pleasure to walk the streets toward the many parks. I had visited West Hollywood in 1976 and walked to Beverly Hills and it was clean and nice to walk.

 

Hollywood: 8 Lebanese movies making it big!

It is not only on the local and regional scene that Lebanese production is making it big.

In fact, Lebanon is now topping the box office sales in Hollywood through 8 newly released movies all inspired from our daily lives!

Blog of the Boss is the first to release the posters of the hit blockbusters making us all proud.

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE IN THE COMMENT BOX!

 

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Ex-spies infiltrate Hollywood: Have you noticed that espionage TV shows and movies are multiplying?

January 24, 2015

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.df71e9fd75415d2cee8cfded99ebe79f.en.html#_=1422435659304&dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-0&lang=en&screen_name=ianshapira&show_count=false&show_screen_name=true&size=m

The place in Brooklyn looks like a CIA safehouse. Red brick office building with peeling metal awning. No sign. Inside, writers are plotting out the popular Cold War espionage show “The Americans” — one of an assortment of Hollywood spy and national security dramas being driven by ex-spies.

The show’s creator and co-head writer, Joe Weisberg, is a former CIA officer who never fathomed that he would one day sit in an office with Soviet propaganda posters and a cutout figure of President Ronald Reagan, concocting television fiction.

Ex-spies infiltrate Hollywood as espionage TV shows and movies multiply

“When I left the CIA, if you were going to ask me, ‘Would you write about espionage?’ I’d say, ‘Absolutely not. It would be a betrayal,’ ” said Weisberg, 49, a spy-turned-novelist who got tapped by Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles to write television scripts. “I had never heard of CAA before. Now that’s like the CIA to me. It’s this huge thing in my life.”

The career afterlife of a CIA official has typically followed well-known paths: Work for a private military contractor. Launch an “intelligence-driven” LLC. Join a law firm. Consult for the CIA. Write a memoir. But the hunger for espionage on TV and movies in recent years is cracking open new career opportunities for ex-CIA personnel with a flair for drama, the kind that’s less clandestine.

“Hollywood tends to be a destination spot for a lot of Washingtonians,” said David Nevins, the president of Showtime, which produces the spy juggernaut “Homeland.”

“There was the ‘West Wing’ crowd of former politicos. I’ve met with more than one former Navy SEAL. And now, certainly the intelligence community has been the most recent in a long line of Washingtonians trying to come out and tell their stories.”

Weisberg, whose show begins its third season on FX on Wednesday night, is perhaps the most successful of the CIA alumni who have infiltrated Hollywood. “The Americans,” about two deep-cover KGB operatives living in suburban Virginia in the 1980s, was ranked by many television critics as one of last year’s top 10 shows.

But Weisberg, who left the CIA in 1994, is hardly the only ex-agency guy trying to cash in on the spy show craze. (Spy shows, one executive at a major Hollywood talent agency observed, have become as ubiquitous as cop shows.) Former senior CIA officials Rodney Faraon and Henry “Hank” Crumpton are the executive producers of NBC’s “State of Affairs,” which stars Katherine Heigl as a CIA analyst and member of the agency’s presidential daily briefing team — one of Faraon’s old jobs.

(In the show, Heigl is technically a briefer to the president; in real life, Faraon was a briefer to an agency director, George Tenet.)

Faraon and Crumpton aren’t stopping with “State of Affairs.” They are actually developing a dozen other CIA-themed dramas, either for television or movies, all part of their work at an Arlington-based firm they co-own called Aardwolf Creative. (CIA buffs and insiders know that “Aardwolf” is the code name for special, very candid cables to headquarters sent by agency station chiefs.)

“The CIA is sexy, especially since [the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks], there’s more transparency into what the agency does, particularly as it prosecutes the war on terror,” Faraon said. He mentioned USA Network’s “Covert Affairs” (which was recently cancelled after five seasons) and yet another spy show on NBC premiering Feb. 5 called “Allegiance.”

Other former agency employees have sought Faraon’s advice on breaking into the industry, he said. He and Crumpton got into the business after Crumpton’s memoir, “The Art of Intelligence,” was published in 2012. Hollywood executives were interested in acquiring the rights, but Crumpton was concerned about losing control over his story and asked Faraon for advice.

Faraon’s suggestion: Let’s make our own shows.

“From a business perspective, the revenue stream would be much greater than selling the rights to your stories,” Faraon said.

Since their launch, he said, “State of Affairs” “has been generating a lot of buzz in the alumni community that we’re the real deal. There’s been a couple of folks who come to us with an idea, asking if this might make a good TV show or movie. Others come to us and ask, ‘How do I get noticed by the industry, and ‘What are you looking for?’ ”

Many former CIA officials tiptoe into Hollywood by writing books, getting them optioned and consulting on whatever project results. That’s how Valerie Plame, a former covert operative whose cover was blown when her name was leaked to the media, got her start. She worked on “Fair Game,” the movie based on her memoir. Then she served as a technical adviser on the pilot of “Covert Affairs.” Now she’s a consultant to Warner Bros. Television, advising on such shows as CBS’s “Person of Interest.”

Robert Baer, a former CIA officer whose book “See No Evil” was turned into the George Clooney movie “Syriana,” is following a similar path. Building on the success of “Syriana,” he’s now writing scripts and producing. Last year, Baer co-wrote a script for Columbia Pictures for the sequel to the Angelina Jolie spy movie “Salt,” though Baer said it’s unclear whether the film will ever get made. He’s also working as an executive producer developing a Navy SEAL show.

Baer considers consulting gigs a “sort of a chump game. It doesn’t pay. You’re not really even a player. You don’t get invited to the premieres. You have to be able to write to make it in Hollywood.”

But John MacGaffin, a former deputy spymaster for the CIA’s clandestine service, loves to consult, even if he’s unpaid. He does it for “Homeland.” One of the show’s earliest writers, the late Henry Bromell , was MacGaffin’s cousin.

Later this month, MacGaffin will host an all-day session at the City Tavern in Georgetown for former CIA colleagues and the show’s writers, plus stars Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin. He hosted such a meeting last year in the run-up to the show’s fourth season, which showed the CIA’s Pakistan station at war with the Taliban, a mole in the U.S. Embassy, and tensions with Pakistani intelligence officials.

“Claire Danes looked me right in the eye and said something like, ‘I have to be a station chief. You’ve been a station chief. Would you teach me?’ What man would say no to Claire Danes?” he asked.

MacGaffin stressed that the sessions go nowhere near classified material. “If last year’s meeting was ‘Terrorism 101,’ this year’s will be a more advance discussion with a European focus,” MacGaffin said. “Espionage, disinformation, counterintelligence, cyberterrorism.”

Lindsay Moran, a former CIA case officer and author of the memoir “Blowing My Cover,” wants to do more than be an adviser. She’s writing scripts and developing shows for Zulu 7, a media company that specializes in producing military and intelligence-themed television shows and movies.

“In Hollywood, there’s this attitude that you might have been in operations, but you’re not a writer,” said Moran, who lives in Maryland. “But I am a writer, a talented writer. To me, going beyond being a technical consultant is paramount. When you’re a technical consultant, you don’t have long-term creative or financial stakes.”

But, much like spy-memoirists, spy-screenwriters face legal limits in their creativity.

Even though Faraon and Crumpton, the former CIA officers behind “State of Affairs,” don’t write the scripts, they did agree to show the agency’s Publications Review Board detailed outlines of every dramatic project their company is developing to ensure that no classified material gets on air.

Once the agency cleared their projects, Faraon’s and Crumpton’s partners, STX Entertainment, could begin developing the show. Even though the scripts don’t have to get cleared by the CIA, Faraon ensures that the show’s writers don’t unwittingly include dialogue that could expose the agency’s sources or methods.

“There are times when I say, ‘You got to take this out,’ ” said Faraon, though he doesn’t have ultimate control over scripts. “I try not to leave any tells. It’s a matter of us being responsible. But we also don’t want to take a Pollyanna-ish view of the CIA. That wouldn’t be authentic.”

In the case of “The Americans,” Weisberg must submit every episode’s script to the CIA. On occasion, the agency has asked him to remove “small things that are easy to change,” said Weisberg, who spends his days in his Brooklyn office. He works across the street from the fake bedroom of fake KGB illegals, a fake FBI office and a few blocks from a fake KGB office. (Fans of the show know it as the “Rezidentura.”)

Weisberg laughs about his unexpected foray into Hollywood. When he was taking a polygraph at the CIA in the early 1990s, his polygrapher asked a prescient question: “He said, ‘Are you going to the CIA because you are looking to learn things about espionage so you can write about it one day?’ ” Weisberg recalled. “It never occurred to me. But then I thought later, ‘Huh, that’s not a bad idea.’ ”

For video clips of some of the shows, go to wapo.st/hollywoodcia.

Websites to cost users by 2010; (October 18, 2009)

 

            The search for an economic model to generate profit is driving many web developers to charging users for information gathering. It seems that publicity is no longer generating enough resources for the printed media. In 1998, 48% of the US readers got their information from papers versus 13% on the web. Ten years later, 37 % use the web versus 34% paper journals and dailies. 

            The successes of iTunes Stores and Amazon is for selling digital music on the Web are encouraging movie and written press businesses to testing paying diffusion modes.  Two years ago, selling music records on the web amounted to 20% of the music market. In 2008, 1.4 billion records were sold on the web; by 2010 this mode of selling will far surpassing the physical CD sales. Last FM, Yes FM, and Spotify are revolutionizing the market and making “streaming” the preferred option for consumers; the paying option does not contain advertisement.  Virgin Media is offering a new legal telecharging “for the price of two CDs you may have access to the entire music catalogue.”

            Daniel Ek, founder of Spotify proclaimed that “the consumer doesn’t give a damn of owning or telecharging CD; what he wants is to be able to have access.”  The networks for sharing files via Torrent and eMule, the “streaming”, or direct telecharging sites such as Rapidshare and Megaupload have doubled business for the second year in a raw.

            Browsing cultural, editorials, and special investigative pieces in dailies will no longer be free. The New York Times got on the web in 2005 and charged its subscribers; it backed off two years later and is now reconsidering payment. Google is receiving advertising benefits through Adsense and Adwords to Google News; the information associations are charging Google to benefit from the labor of other journalists without their consent.  Google is studying a formula and it presented it to Newspapers Association of America that would allow dailies to charge its Google’s users for articles read.

            Louis Gordon Crovitz, co-founder of Journalism Online stated: “The future is for mix models of free and charged. Authors of numerical books will receive their dues.”  Rupert Murdoch, mogul of News Corporation which include Wall Street Journal, Times, and the Sun is leading the charge on account that “an industry that offer its product for free cannibalizes its capacity for producing good journalism.”

            The Economist is going to charge micro payments within 6 months; basically there will be two kinds of payments: Essential formula at half price of the Premiere formula where users can read the journals the night before publication.

            Paramount, Lions Gate, and Metro-Goldwyn-Myer are uniting to launch on the Epix market high definition movies in streaming mode. YouTube is negociating similar deals with the studios of Hollywood.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

September 2021
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