News Release

Interviews Available on Hollywood and Baghdad


Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, which organized Sean Penn’s recent trip to Baghdad. Solomon will be returning from Baghdad late Tuesday afternoon.

Author of the forthcoming The Red and the Blacklist: A Memoir of a Hollywood Insider, Barzman was blacklisted in 1949. She said today: “Since the blacklists, fear has been engendered into the American population.”

Author of The TV Arab and Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, Shaheen said today: “It’s encouraging that some individuals working in Hollywood are speaking their minds on American policy in the Mideast. Regrettably, most voices remain mum. Most producers have yet to examine the roles they play in shaping images that teach viewers to hate people and their faiths, notably Arabs and Islam. Ever since the beginning of television, programs have presented Arabs and Muslims as villains. Since 9/11 TV has displayed even more harmful stereotypes, projecting America’s Arabs and Muslims as a threat to their country. More than a dozen Arab-bashing movies were produced in cooperation with the Pentagon, the most recent being ‘Rules of Engagement.’ As Jack Valenti says, ‘Washington and Hollywood share the same DNA.’ Is it only an accident that since two ancient TV series, ‘The Danny Thomas Show’ and ‘M*A*S*H,’ which featured Jamie Farr as Klinger, no TV series has featured a regular Arab American or Muslim American character? Why is that? Their invisibility is directly linked to prejudice, profiling, and their dehumanization.”

Clennon plays the CIA’s “art chief” on the CBS show “The Agency” and signed the recent “Win Without War” statement. He said today: “We’ve come to think of a major attack on Iraq as inevitable, but the script doesn’t have to play that way. The justification for massive war will wither away if we examine it. Bush the elder called Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait ‘naked aggression’ — and that’s what it will be if we attack Iraq now…. I regret that ‘The Agency’ — a fictional drama — has inadvertently served to reinforce the propaganda emanating from the White House, as it pushes our country toward war. Our show has lately echoed the portrayal of Iraq as a deadly threat to America. I do not believe that view. I don’t think the producers are out to bang the drums for war, but they lack an informed perspective on the Middle East and so they reinforce the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld black propaganda line. I think the show’s entertainment value is high, but I would ask viewers to do three things: 1) be very alert to the political assumptions and the political messages contained in each story; 2) do research in other mediums to come to your own conclusions on questions of war and peace; 3) let CBS know if you think our show is failing to present a balanced view of world affairs. As an actor I have little influence over the content of our show, but I will stay with ‘The Agency’ and I’ll continue to advocate for a political balance in the show’s depiction of our world.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167