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RESPONSE TO TERROR

Top Bush Aide to Meet With Studios on War

Hollywood: Senior advisor Karl Rove is to lead dialogue on U.S. image with entertainment chiefs. Observers stress need to monitor any pact.

November 07, 2001|DANA CALVO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

President Bush has dispatched senior advisor Karl Rove to lead a meeting with studio heads Sunday in a sign the stakes have risen since a pair of mid-level White House staffers opened an informal dialogue last month with Hollywood producers about America's wartime image.

Evidence of the rising power quotient on both sides came in a call from Rove last week to Paramount Pictures Studio chief Sherry Lansing, one of Hollywood's most influential women. Like others expected to be at the meeting, Lansing can not only green-light projects, but she has the studio's substantial infrastructure at her disposal.

About 40 executives are expected to convene at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills for the talks. Invitations were faxed across town late Tuesday afternoon, listing as the event's co-hosts Viacom Entertainment chief Jonathan Dolgen, Motion Picture Assn. of America head Jack Valenti and Lansing.

"The anticipated outcome of the meeting would be an initial plan encompassing several substantive ways we can lend support to our nation's cause," said the one-page invitation obtained by The Times on Tuesday. "We assure you that this will be a private, confidential, working meeting of the most senior administration officials and entertainment industry principals only. No press or elected officials will be present."

According to Valenti, who was reached at his home in Washington, D.C., late Tuesday, neither he nor Lansing nor Dolgen was invited to the initial meeting Oct. 17 between two White House staffers and about 40 producers, image makers and artists.

"The major studios were not involved in that last meeting," he said. "We'll have a high-powered crowd . . . they'll be top people from the top companies." Although organizers described the initial conversation with the White House as the first step in what they hoped would be an ongoing dialogue about improving America's image in movies, television and advertising, it is clear Washington is driving the discussions.

Some industry observers and scholars emphasize that any input from federal officials about entertainment content should be monitored, even if both parties appear to be cooperating. Jennifer Millerwise, spokeswoman for the White House, said she had no details on Rove's goals for the sit-down.

"This is part of our continued outreach to the entertainment community," she said.

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