President Bush videotaped a statement at the White House on Wednesday that will appear at the beginning of next weekend's ABC docudrama "The Heroes of the Desert Storm," the producers said.
"We sent the White House a copy of the script and asked for the President because we thought it would be an appropriate way to begin the film, to pay tribute to these individuals by having the commander-in-chief of the armed forces salute them," said Don Ohlmeyer, the movie's executive producer and director.
"Heroes," which airs Oct. 6, focuses on the stories of nine men and women who fought in the Persian Gulf War.
Earlier this week, Ohlmeyer Productions President Howard Katz hired a crew in Washington to shoot Bush in the Map Room reading the opening homage, penned by the movie's writer, Lionel Chetwynd.
Bush's participation in the two-hour docudrama came as he was preparing plans for possibly renewing military action against Iraq to enforce United Nations resolutions.
Ohlmeyer said that "Heroes" does not make any policy statements regarding military actions taken in the gulf. Bush's part in the docudrama, he said, should not be interpreted as a promotional endorsement by the President or a political stand by ABC.
"People can hypothesize about what Bush's motivations are, and there's really nothing I can do to dissuade them from that," Ohlmeyer said.
"He did not do this for me or ABC, but for the people who risked their lives in his army. I think what he says is very tasteful and touching."
"I think it's highly appropriate that the commander-in-chief would comment about the performance and valor of the soldiers who fell under his command," said Alan Sabinson, ABC's vice president in charge of movies and miniseries.
"I don't think this is much different than the President attending a homecoming or a parade to show his support."