'CHiPs' gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

In the wake of the Vietnam War, Hollywood didn’t give vets of the controversial conflict a good depiction. The Oscars went to movies like Deer Hunter or Platoon, which did a great job of showcasing the horrors of war, but often made troops appear to be ruthless, cold killers.

On the small screen, however, things were different. Famously, Tom Selleck’s portrayal of Thomas Magnum, a private investigator and former Navy officer, in Magnum, P.I. helped others see vets as tough and virtuous. But a show about motorcycle cops also helped showcase the good side of vets three years before Selleck assumed his iconic role.


CHiPs featured two California Highway Patrol officers, Jon Baker and Francis Llewellyn “Ponch” Poncherello, as played by Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada, respectively. Wilcox got into acting after serving in the Marine Corps for three years, reaching the rank of sergeant and serving for 13 months in Vietnam as an artilleryman. Estrada previously played a small role as the pilot of a F4F Wildcat in the movie Midway.

CHiPs star Larry Wilcox was a Marine artilleryman who served in Vietnam.

(USMC)
CHiPs star Larry Wilcox was a Marine artilleryman who served in Vietnam.
(USMC)

Throughout the show, Baker would occasionally mention his service in Vietnam, including during a third-season episode where he and Ponch had to skydive in order to catch drug smugglers in the act. Wilcox’s portrayal of Baker stands out — because he didn’t play a PTSD-riddled derelict (a popular trend in movies at the time), but instead a productive member of society. In fact, Baker often ended up being more by-the-books in comparison to the flamboyant Ponch.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Wilcox starred in the series ‘CHiPs’ for five seasons and in a 1999 TV reunion movie.
(NBC Television)

The show lasted for six seasons on NBC, with Wilcox playing Baker for five of those. Most of the cast returned for a reunion movie in 1999. By then, Baker had been promoted to captain. Baker, incidentally, was not the only character to portray a Vietnam-era vet. Robert Pine (the father of Chris Pine) played Joe Getraer, the long-suffering sergeant and Navy veteran. Arthur Grossman was also a service vet.

After CHiPs, Wilcox became a producer and continued to act. Today, you can stream CHiPs for free on Amazon Prime.

If you want to take a quick stroll down memory lane, watch the opening and closing credits below.

www.youtube.com

MIGHTY MOVIES

From Generation Kill to This Is Us, Jon Huertas talks family, career and life in the Air Force

Jon Huertas is one of the most successful Latino actors of today. Having been a lead on shows such as Generation Kill, Castle, This Is Us, and in the military film The Objective, Huertas is well-known for the depth of his talent. Perhaps lesser known: He’s an Air Force veteran. Huertas served in the Air Force before transitioning over to acting where he comes at his craft and profession from a much deeper perspective than one might recognize at a quick glance. He shares his stories here about where he has been, where he wants to go and changes he believes are necessary in the Entertainment industry.


‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Photo credit IMDB.com

WATM: Tell me about your family and your life growing up?

My upbringing was sometimes tough at times, although my mom and grandparents tried their best to make family life easier. You are born what you’re born into, where you try to come out with a smile on your face.

WATM: What is the most distinct memory of your mother and your father?

My mother worked very hard and the best as she could for her family. I grew up with my grandparents where my grandfather was adamant about studying effectively and always being a student of life. You never really master anything and need to keep an open mind because nothing is solid and everything in life tends to be fluid. So, I always try to learn something new to be ready for life’s many changes. My grandmother had a good sense of humor and she didn’t take herself too seriously. She was always laughing and always having fun. Our life on this planet is super short, with how small of creatures we truly are in the universe. And in retrospect to how long the earth has been here.

WATM: What values were stressed at home?

In many ways I raised myself and made mistakes where I could have landed on a completely different path in life. I had a dream to be an actor and also a hero complex with a developing desire to also serve my country. These desires mostly kept me out of trouble growing up…”mostly,” but getting in trouble a few times steered me in the right direction. My goals kept me focused and not ending up in situations where I shouldn’t be. It was like I would have internal conversations with myself about my goals and which forced me to grow up.

WATM: What influenced you to join the US Air Force, what was your experience and what lessons did you take away from your service?

A lot of men in my family served, including my grandfather who was in the Navy, my uncle was in the Navy and I had several uncles that served in the Marine Corps as well. I saw pictures of them, especially the black and white picture of my grandfather in uniform, where I actually saw myself in that photo. I went to the Navy recruiter first then off to MEPS but then joined the Air Force after a conversation with a family member. I’d always loved flying, I loved airplanes and helicopters, so it was only natural that I joined the AF instead.

Serving your country is one of the last rites of passage in our country. And while I served, I identified and followed good leaders so I could aspire to one day become one myself. That’s my biggest take away from my time in the AF. You can find your family anywhere and when you’re in the military, you create this family around you at your duty stations. When you leave that one, you then have to find your new family at your next duty station. It’s actually fairly easy for humans to adapt in a situation where you have to find “your people”. I learned that I needed to surround myself with the people that were going to help me attain my goals. I got this from the AF, but I feel it can work for anyone whether the serve or not.

WATM: What values have you carried over from the USAF into acting?

The two most valuable things I took away from the AF is having a strong sense of initiative and discipline. It takes initiative to get your career started. Becoming an actor is one of the hardest careers. It is not even really a career; it is a lifestyle. So having the initiative to figure it all out was huge for me. And you have to have the discipline to stick with it and not give up. Knowing that being in constant training will keep you sharp and ready. In the military we are always improving on our training. It is the same with acting, I am constantly training. There are wonderful acting classes, books to read and films to watch. When you get the opportunity to finally go in for an audition, you should feel like you are the best that you think you can be, then show them that you are the best one for that job.

WATM: What is the most fulfilling project you have done and why?

My most fulfilling role is definitely in “Generation Kill” as Sgt. Tony Espera. This was because they had developed a wonderfully complex Latino character. It was unlike any other show that I had worked on. My character, Espera, wasn’t a narco trafficker or a low-level thug, he was someone who had chosen to serve his country. Probably the most developed Latino character I have ever played. HBO, David Simon, Ed Burns and Evan Wright showed gumption by making Espera one of the leads in the show. And it was so gratifying to portray a character like him — to tell an authentic story to the men and women who serve our country and to stay truthful to what happened during the invasion. The writer of the book, Evan Wright, was on set and would provide key advice. Evan had a micro recorder that he always had on him to where if we questioned some of the dialogue, he would pull out the recorder and we could hear our dialog being said, as it happened, by the real guys we were portraying. For advisors on the story, we had the real Rudy Reyes playing himself, with Jeff Carazales and Erick Kocher, also there but being portrayed by actors. Of course, we would them if, in these scripts, it was the way that it really happened, and they let us know it was.

The two biggest compliments I’ve ever received as an actor was when Tony Espera’s wife saw GK at the Camp Pendleton premiere and she asked me, “How was I able to be Tony?” and the other was Tony himself telling me, “I felt like I was watching memories, not a TV show.” Because of that, Generation Kill is the pinnacle of my career.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Jon Huertas, Alexander Skarsgard, and Lee Tergeson in “Generation Kill”. Photo credit IMDB.com

WATM: What was your experience like in working with such talents as Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Rob Bowman, Alex Skarsgard, Susana White, Simon Cellan Jones, Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Dan Fogelman, and the like?

Castle is something that I had never experienced before. It is probably the most collaborative show I have ever worked on. They let me help develop Esposito, the character I played. He wasn’t a veteran in the pilot. I asked the producers if I could make him an Army veteran and they let me do it. The relationship I had with Nathan Fillion and Seamus Dever, where our characters, were normally the looser part of the story when compared with the Beckett character played by Stana Katic. We could play around a little more and Stana usually played the straight woman, mirroring the audience’s perspective. She was so good at portraying that character and bringing the three of us back to a more grounded place for the procedural aspect of the show. We were able to figure out how to play, what could’ve been repetitive tropes, differently by infusing character and humor into it that made us stick out. Rob Bowman directed our pilot and he is a mentor to me. He was my first teacher as a director, and he was so encouraging for us to bring more humor. He loved to laugh and wanted us to improve the story by having us not take ourselves too seriously which I think allowed the audience to root for us.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever in “Castle”. Photo credit IMDB.com

I can’t say enough about Seamus Dever who played my partner on the show. He is not only a loyal actor but an even more loyal friend. He was always protective of me and our work. He made my time on Castle the best time I could have had. Nathan is such a giving person and super generous. He wasn’t always trying to be the center of the show, he loved highlighting what the rest of us did. The most fun I had was trying to make Nathan laugh during a take, which I reprised when I got to guest with Nathan on The Rookie last year.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Stana Katic, Nathan Fillion, and Jon Huertas in “Castle”. Photo credit IMDB.com

After working on Generation Kill, it was amazing to see so many of the guys go off and do such wonderful work after the show. Alexander Skarsgard’s career has been amazing, from doing True Blood to Tarzan and tons of other amazing gigs. And to think he was thinking about quitting acting right before the GK?! Brad “Iceman” Colbert, who Alexander portrayed in Generation Kill, was super proud of Alexander’s work portraying him. Alex and I are still tight as well as most everyone from the show like, James Ransone, Stark Sands, Wilson Bethel, Michael Kelley, and many others. We’re all like brothers now. Almost every single guy from Generation Kill was at my wedding and it was a destination wedding in Mexico, I still can’t believe they all came there for me. I even flew with guys from Generation Kill to England to go to Stark Sands’ wedding. There have been several destination weddings from guys on that show. Everyone on Generation Kill was such a joy to work with, they pushed me, and I pushed them and their dedication in getting the story right made me very proud.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Kellan Lutz, Sal Alvarez, Jon Huertas, Pawel Szajda, and Stefan Otto in Generation Kill.

The experience was almost like being deployed. We shot for nearly eight months in Africa in the countries of Namibia, South Africa’s and in Mozambique. We were a cast made up of almost all guys and for Susana White to not only keep us all from killing each other, she did such an amazing job with the subject matter and was so open to getting the story right. She ended up nominated for Emmy for GK and, in fact, the show was nominated for eleven Emmys. Simon Kellan Jones is a blast to work with and made the set such a fun place to be. Even though we were telling a story that sometimes had us calling in an air strike on the civilian populace, Simon helped us process it so we didn’t bring in too much darkness where people may not watch it.

Now, This Is Us is a family show with no guns like a lot of shows I’ve done in the past. It does feel like a family and all that trickles down through Dan Fogelman. He sets the tone for the show. It is rare to be part of a show that has the impact that this show has. It’s another once in a lifetime experience to be on a show that has touched so many people in so many profound ways.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Jon Huertas, Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore and Wynn Everett in “This Is Us”. Photo credit IMDB.com

All of the projects I’ve been a part of have been amazing in their own way. But working in this industry for the past 25 years, I’ve seen a lack of people behind the scenes that I can say have had similar experiences as an adult male Latino. Meaning…I’ve been working a lot of episodes of television from guest stars to series regulars to leads and I’ve only been directed by one adult male Latino. That is one a hole that still needs to be filled as well as TV writers, Show Runners, Producers and Executives.

After This Is Us ends, I’d like to spend more time behind the camera in the director’s chair and in writing. With the lack of Latino writers in TV, so many characters and storylines featuring Latinos are in roles of a negative stereotype or in menial roles like the gardener or cook instead of as heroes, champions, romantics and role models. So, until you can get people that are writing about it, producing it, developing it, greenlighting it or directing it you are not going to see it. I feel a responsibility to be a part of pushing that message forward. I see a lack of representation at the network, studio and production level for Latinos and I hope to be a part of changing that as well.

As a little kid I had this hero complex. I watched TV and movies, but rarely did I see anyone who looked or talked like me. I watched the old “Batman” TV series with Adam West and I loved Adam West but… he didn’t look like me. So in the back of my mind, I thought that I couldn’t be Batman because he was white. Marvel still hasn’t stepped up with Latino representation. In the TV world there was a recurring character called, Ghost Rider on Agents of Shield but for 20 plus years of doing Marvel in the cinematic universe, they’ve yet to have one adult male Latino as a superhero in his own title.

Erik Estrada was an influential to me while growing up as well as Esai Morales, who was another mentor of mine. I saw him for the first time in a Sean Penn movie called Bad Boys and I think that was the first time I saw someone who really looked like me. It took me seeing someone like me to have the confidence to aspire to become an actor. Latino characters need to be portrayed as the hero, the guy that gets the girl, and the wealthy guy. We have to force ourselves to tell stories that are an equal slice of life. The best bite of a stew is one with all of the pieces of the stew, not just the same three or four pieces.

WATM: What leadership lessons in life and from the USAF have helped you most in your career?

Instead of making emotional decisions allow your emotions to inspire a calculated decision. That is what shows a true leader: You are not letting your emotions speak for you are letting your emotions inspire you to make the best decision. Emotional decisions can be like gut punches where you just react. A person may not think a certain way where they lash out after being hurt.

As an actor your job is to convey an emotion so you can get an emotional response from your audience. If a director and another actor come in and they’re trying to guide your personal choices to benefit them and you feel they’re trying to manipulate your artistic vision for your character, you could become emotional. If you let your emotion take over, you might regret reacting the way you do and end up looking like the problem in the moment. Now there’s tension between actor and director or actor and actor. If you take just a moment and think internally, “How do I get what I want?” You say, “I see where you are coming from, but does this have any value?”You may get them to see it from your perspective and you help them make your decision for you. Now that is, “if” your decision does have value. If so, how can they deny it?

Good decision-making trickles down from the top. From the president to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the Pentagon. Even on the unit level from the battalion commander to the platoon commander and on down.

WATM: As a veteran, how do we get more veteran stories told in the Hollywood and stage arena?

Think back to It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart where he was a WWII veteran. Stories are already being told that veterans like to watch but we need to encourage veterans to step up and write, direct, produce stories that speak not only to veteran audiences but also the general market. Veterans a lot of times make the focus of their stories completely from a veteran POV but instead need to create a story everyone will be into and then just happen to make the characters veterans. It’s almost like when you are laying out your characters and mark one with a green dot “veteran”. Back in the day, we just wouldn’t watch a lot of the TV shows or films that centered on veterans because Hollywood usually got it wrong. But now that’s changed. Some bars have been set high because some of the more recent military based projects, especially the higher quality ones, have hired advisors and/or worked with veterans from the inception of the projects. Just like I have to step out as a Latino and encourage others to do so, we need to encourage veterans to step out as well to write the stories.

Just like what I shared about training, not only when serving, when starting out as an actor but also veterans who want to tell their stories need to study creative writing and learn how to write a, treatments, out lines, pitches, log-lines and eventually an amazing screenplay. You have to write something that is not only a great story, but that is produce-able. The hope is that you can sell it somewhere and it’s given a proper budget so the integrity and authenticity can be upheld. As a veteran that wants to write a series about a veteran you may have to work as a staff writer on a show that is not about veterans, so you have to have an open mind. You have to have the skills to write a good script and then after a season or so you can talk to the producers about trying to introduce a character that is a veteran. You have to get into that writer’s room and win hearts and minds. Invest in the writer’s room and then move to the director’s chair and the executive’s chair at the studio, be in charge of what is getting made. You might be able to get into a position to inspire every project created at the studio level, who knows.

WATM: What are you most proud of in life and your career?

I’m proud to have been a working actor who happens to be Latino and also proud to be veterans who has represented veterans truthfully on screen. Portraying veteran and Latino characters positively has hopefully affected someone out there positively as well.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ trailer is perfect – don’t at me

Get ready for two minutes and fifty-six seconds of glory because the latest trailer from the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise just dropped. This is why The Rock wakes up at 4:00 to work out while the rest of us sleep like lazy jerks. Hobbs & Shaw looks like it will be completely ridiculous — and that’s why it’s going to be perfection.

Check it out:


Hobbs & Shaw (Official Trailer)

www.youtube.com

Hobbs & Shaw (Official Trailer)

Hobbs Shaw will be the 9th film in the Fast Furious franchise and just like its predecessors, it’s completely bonkers. But it knows that it’s bonkers — and that’s why it’s brilliant.

The franchise started out in 2001 with street racing, thieves, and an undercover cop (played by the late and very much missed Paul Walker), and since then it has exploded into a billion franchise that burns physics like NOS. In the latest film, they’re upping the ante and throwing in super powers.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

No complaints here.

“I am human evolutionary change. Bullet proof. Super human,” purrs Idris Elba, the self-proclaimed “bad guy” of the film. According to The Rock, Elba plays a “cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist [who] gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever,” and former nemeses Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) must team up together to stop him.

Even though they hate each other but actually share similar ideals. So silly.

Vanessa Kirby plays a rogue M16 agent in there somewhere, too, and I’ll be watching with my Bechdel checklist…

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

This is the party I signed up for.

Johnson has made a career out of over-the-top roles that he absolutely pulls off. He’s not making dark action flicks — he’s making films designed to give the viewer some fun. Hobbs Shaw looks like it will be no exception. The creative team doubled down on action thriller endorphins by playing up that ol’ “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” trope — and they did it because it works.

Also read: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson wanted to be a CIA agent

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

You guys are so silly.

The trailer reveals a peek at what we can expect from the film: car chases, explosions, destroyed buildings, and dudes who have spent a lotta hours in the gym beating each other up.

And a girl. Somewhere. Getting captured it looks like. So probably also rescued. She better have some of her own agency is what I’m saying. We can talk about it later, writing duo Chris Morgan and Gary Scott Thompson…

Ultimately, my bet is that the trailer is advertising the exact film it represents: an action-packed, fun-filled, no brainer experience, which is perfect.

Hobbs Shaw opens on August 2, 2019.

More: Read about that time The Rock surprised a combat veteran

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The amazing reason Queen Elizabeth refused to sit on the Iron Throne

It’s not that she isn’t fond of games. Or that she isn’t fond of the show. Whatever she thinks of it, it employs upwards of thousands of her subjects. When Queen Elizabeth visited the set of HBO’s Game of Thrones and met with its producers and cast, she refused to have a seat on the now-legendary chair.

She just wasn’t allowed.


‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Not photoshopped. HBO Max

“What a charming prop,” she probably thought, thinking of her many, many actual thrones in her real-life palaces.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Totally photoshopped. HBO Watch

What Game of Thrones fans among us haven’t thought about getting a photo of themselves sitting in the chair that rightfully belongs to King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm? When offered the chance for herself, Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of this Realm and of Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, declined.

Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss and cast members Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), and Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) were left a little surprised. The Queen was very polite about the subject, but it was a polite refusal.

It turns out, the Queen of England can’t just sit on any throne she wants to.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Qing infantry battle British forces at the battle of Chinkiang during the First Opium War. R. Simkin/public domain

Unless it somehow *becomes* hers, I suppose. #Loopholes.

An old, old tradition really does prohibit the reigning English monarch from even sitting on a foreign throne. Note: This is not an actual law preventing the practice, it’s just a good practice that she’s carried on from the days of yore. While the Queen’s position is more of a ceremonial one these days, in some places, a King or Queen may actually wield the power of the state and sitting on the throne could be considered an act of aggression. When Kings and Queens meet, it seems like sitting only on appropriate chairs is just good practice.

So avoiding the fictional Iron Throne was probably just good practice. The 95-year-old monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland doesn’t need a special chair to feel important like the rest of us peasants.

Feature photo: The Iron Throne, HBO Max. 

Articles

This Walt Disney film taught World War II soldiers how to use an anti-tank rifle

Before Lady met Tramp and Captain Jack Sparrow was dependent on rum, Walt Disney Productions’ humble beginnings included informational videos.


Amazingly, one of these educational videos was a theatrical short on how to effectively operate a high-caliber rifle used to take down tanks.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Walt Disney Productions

Developed in 1942, “Stop That Tank!” was a 22-minute instructional film produced by Walt Disney Productions in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada.

In it, a cartoon rendition of a prancing Adolf Hitler breaks the monotony of the forthcoming chore: sitting through another instructional film that the soldiers would soon be watching. Afterwards, Disney’s signature vintage mix of using actual characters, cartoons, and a narrator, provide detailed instructions on the proper techniques of using the rifle — such as loading, aiming, firing, and cleaning.

The rifle mentioned in the film happened to be a Mk.1 “Boys Anti-Tank Rifle” that was originally manufactured in Britain. Weighing in at 36 pounds, this monstrous .55 caliber rifle .55 — slightly reminiscent of Barrett’s M82 — stood at 63.5 inches tall and had a 36-inch barrel.

Here’s what the film’s animation looked like:

Watch the entire video below:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnhlD0HZAm4
MIGHTY MOVIES

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

The US government and Hollywood have always been close. Washington DC has long been a source of intriguing plots for filmmakers and LA has been a generous provider of glamour and glitz to the political class.

But just how dependant are these two centres of American influence? Scrutiny of previously hidden documents reveals that the answer is: very.

We can now show that the relationship between US national security and Hollywood is much deeper and more political than anyone has ever acknowledged.


It is a matter of public record that the Pentagon has had an Entertainment Liaison Office since 1948. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) established a similar position in 1996. Although it was known that they sometimes request script changes in exchange for advice, permission to use locations, and equipment like aircraft carriers, each appeared to have passive, and largely apolitical roles.

Files we obtained, mainly through the US Freedom of Information Act, show that between 1911 and 2017, more than 800 feature films received support from the US government’s Department of Defence (DoD), a significantly higher figure than previous estimates indicate. These included blockbuster franchises like Transformers, Iron Man, and The Terminator.

On television, we found over 1,100 titles received Pentagon backing – 900 of them since 2005, from Flight 93 to Ice Road Truckers to Army Wives.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lxDREJ4vTo
24 Season 1 Trailer

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When we include individual episodes for long running shows like 24, Homeland, and NCIS, as well as the influence of other major organizations like the FBI and White House, we can establish unequivocally for the first time that the national security state has supported thousands of hours of entertainment.

For its part, the CIA has assisted in 60 film and television shows since its formation in 1947. This is a much lower figure than the DoD’s but its role has nonetheless been significant.

The CIA put considerable effort into dissuading representations of its very existence throughout the 1940s and 1950s. This meant it was entirely absent from cinematic and televisual culture until a fleeting image of a partially obscured plaque in Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest in 1959, as historian Simon Willmetts revealed in 2016.

North by Northwest – Original Theatrical Trailer

www.youtube.com

The CIA soon endured an erosion of public support, while Hollywood cast the agency as villain in paranoid pictures like Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View in the 1970s and into the 1980s.

When the CIA established an entertainment liaison office in 1996, it made up for lost time, most emphatically on the Al Pacino film The Recruit and the Osama bin Laden assassination movie Zero Dark Thirty. Leaked private memos published by our colleague Tricia Jenkins in 2016, and other memos published in 2013 by the mainstream media, indicate that each of these productions were heavily influenced by government officials. Both heightened or inflated real-world threats and dampened down government malfeasance.

One of the most surprising alterations, though, we found in an unpublished interview regarding the comedy Meet the Parents. The CIA admitted that it had asked Robert De Niro’s character not possess an intimidating array of agency torture manuals.

Nor should we see the clandestine services as simply passive, naive or ineffectual during the counterculture years or its aftermath. They were still able to derail a Marlon Brando picture about the Iran-Contra scandal (in which the US illegally sold arms to Iran) by establishing a front company run by Colonel Oliver North to outbid Brando for the rights, journalist Nicholas Shou recently claimed.

The (CIA) director’s cut

The national security state has a profound, sometimes petty, impact on what Hollywood conveys politically. On Hulk, the DoD requested “pretty radical” script alterations, according to its script notes we obtained through Freedom of Information. These included disassociating the military from the gruesome laboratories that created “a monster” and changing the codename of the operation to capture the Hulk from “Ranch Hand” to “Angry Man”. Ranch Hand had been the name of a real chemical warfare programme during the Vietnam war.

In making the alien movie Contact, the Pentagon “negotiated civilianization of almost all military parts”, according to the database we acquired. It removed a scene in the original script where the military worries that an alien civilization will destroy Earth with a “doomsday machine”, a view dismissed by Jodie Foster’s character as “paranoia right out of the Cold War”.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

(Flickr photo by Meredith P.)


The role of the national security state in shaping screen entertainment has been underestimated and its examination long concentrated in remarkably few hands. The trickle of recent books have pushed back but only fractionally and tentatively. An earlier breakthrough occurred at the turn of the century when historians identified successful attempts in the 1950s by a senior individual at the Paramount film studio to promote narratives favorable to a CIA contact known only as “Owen”.

The new FOI documents give a much better sense of the sheer scale of state activities in the entertainment industry, which we present alongside dozens of fresh cases studies. But we still do not know the specific impact of the government on a substantial portion of films and shows. The American Navy’s Marine Corps alone admitted to us that there are 90 boxes of relevant material in its archive. The government has seemed especially careful to avoid writing down details of actual changes made to scripts in the 21st century.

State officials have described Washington DC and Hollywood as being “sprung from the same DNA” and the capital as being “Hollywood for ugly people”. That ugly DNA has embedded far and wide. It seems the two cities on opposite sides of the United States are closer than we ever thought.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

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This Army vet is crazy motivated

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  Former NFL player and Army Veteran Daniel Rodriguez seeks out battlefields.

Enlisting after the untimely death of his father, Rodriguez served grueling deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, survived heavy action and the loss of comrades, and returned stateside with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star — all by age 19.

Battling PTSD, Rodriguez reinvented himself as a college football player, joining the Clemson University team and eventually going on to play pro with the St. Louis Rams. Continuing to master the improbable, he wrote a bestselling autobiography about his experience entitled “Rise: A soldier, a dream and a promise kept.”

And now he’s reinventing himself again, having just signed to play pro soccer in Europe. You might think you’re motivated, but sorry, not like this dude.

“If I had any one of my friends that could be here today that were killed, what excuse would they make to not want to be with their loved one, to not want to be productive, to not want to do something one more day if they had the opportunity to.”

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Dust, and where to eat it. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

Rodriguez invited Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis to spend a day with him on the off-season training pitch, a battlefield that would soon test the limits of Curtis’ athletic prowess. Not content to merely survive a session in the sh*t in Rodriguez Boot Camp, Curtis attempted to recapture some manhood by asserting his prerogative to throw down the now familiar Oscar Mike Challenge.

The results were all too typical.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
For a brief moment, things looked promising for Curtis. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

Watch as Rodriguez shows Curtis how to put some twinkle in his toes and where he can shove his “spinning cartwheel block” in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Oscar Mike:

This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD

This is why you don’t challenge an ex-sniper to a duel

Watch this Vietnam War vet school a young soldier in stunt driving

This is what happens when you put a sailor in a stock car

Humor

7 life lessons we learned from Gunny Highway in ‘Heartbreak Ridge’

The 1986 movie “Heartbreak Ridge” took the Marine Corps community and audiences by storm as it showcased Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Highway’s rough and tumble personality. Clint Eastwood took on dual roles as he starred in and directed this iconic film role about a man who is on the tail-end of his military service.


Related: 7 life lessons we learned from watching ‘Full Metal Jacket’

Behind Gunny Highway’s tough exterior lies a man who knows plenty about being a career Marine, but also has a need to build relationships as he moves forward in life.

So check out these life lessons that we could all learn from our beloved Gunny.

1. Don’t let anyone punk you

In Gunny’s own words, “be advised that I’m mean, nasty, and tired. I eat concertina wire and piss napalm and I can put a round through a flea’s ass at 200 meters.”

You tell them, Gunny. (images via Giphy)

2. Know exactly who you are

Although the majority of the film’s characters were out to discourage him, that didn’t stop him from being true to himself.

(images via Giphy)

3. Be semi-approachable

Yes, Gunny is a hard ass, but giving a treat to somebody to shut them the hell up is an excellent networking technique.

Gunny always finds a way to make friends. (images via Giphy)

4. Size doesn’t matter

You can have the biggest muscles in the room, but if you don’t have that “thinker” sitting in between your two ears, you don’t have sh*t.

Gunny doesn’t back down. (images via Giphy)

5. Grunts vs. POGs

The rivalry is real.

When you have some trigger time under your belt and know you’re right, sound off to make your point loud and clear.

Get him! (images via Giphy)

Also Read: 8 life lessons from ‘Forrest Gump’ legend Lt. Dan

6. Lead from the front

Leadership is about showing your men that you will fight with them and for them.

(images via Giphy)

7. Being patriotic is a turn on

No matter how hardcore you are, after a long day of kicking ass and taking names, it’s always good to have someone to come home too.

And Gunny lives happily ever after. (images via Giphy)We told you this movie was about relationships.

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 tech predictions ‘Blade Runner’ got wrong about 2019

Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” hit theaters in 1982, but it takes place in Los Angeles of November 2019.

The movie showed audience member in 1982 a dystopian future world, one where the earth is dark and polluted. Blade runners, like Harrison Ford’s character, are tasked with tracking down human-like robots called replicants, and killing, or “retiring,” them.

Some things the film predicted about 2019 have turned out to be mostly right. Although the earth isn’t in as bad of shape as it is in the movie, climate change is an increasingly pressing issue. Robots play bigger roles in our lives than ever before, and voice assistant are fairly common. But, not every prediction in the 1982 film has come true, at least not yet.

Here are five things the movie got wrong about 2019.


‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

(Screenshot)

1. The movie predicted flying cars, and we’re not even close.

Some companies have built prototypes for flying vehicles that are branded as “flying cars” or “flying taxis,” but they’re far less capable than those in “Blade Runner.” More progress has been made creating and testing self-driving cars.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

2. We would have robots that are so human-like, they require a test to distinguish between humans and robots.

Despite recent advances in AI, we don’t have replicants, and modern robots are definitely not easily mistaken for humans.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

(Blade Runner)

3. In Blade Runner’s 2019, smoking was still common, even indoors.

Many states in the US have banned or limited smoking indoors in a public space, including California, which is where “Blade Runner” is set.

The movie didn’t see the rise of vaping coming.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

(Blade Runner Warner Bros)

4. In the film, people have colonized parts of space.

Today, despite the hopes of tech execs like Elon Musk, we’re still years away from that being a reality.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

(Blade Runner Warner Bros)

5. Polaroids play an important role in the film, and digital photos don’t really exist.

Polaroids are still around today, but they’re mostly for fun and not anyone’s primary way of taking and storing photos.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ wins the box office

Disney’s “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is still doing big business at the domestic box office as it stayed in the top spot for a third consecutive weekend after taking in $33.7 million. But compared to its previous chapters in the Skywalker saga, the movie is a little sluggish by “Star Wars” standards.

The movie’s domestic total is now at $450.8 million, a fantastic figure for any blockbuster after three weeks, but at this time two years ago “The Last Jedi” had brought in $531.5 million. And 2015’s “The Force Awakens” raked in the domestic cume after the third weekend of an incredible $742.2 million.


At the end of the day it’s not how fast you get to id=”listicle-2644164132″ billion, but if you get there, and “The Rise of Skywalker” will certainly do that, as the movie’s worldwide total to date is 8.8 million. But the performance by “Skywalker” in the coming weeks will be interesting to track, as it might finish its theatrical run without getting to 0 million domestically. A figure that both “Force Awakens” (6.6 million) and “Last Jedi” (0.1 million) surpassed.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Sony supplied the rest of the box office power this weekend with three very different titles.

“Jumanji: The Next Level” continues to be a strong counterprogrammer to “Rise of Skywalker” as it came in second place with .5 million. Its domestic cume is over 6 million (over 0 million worldwide), proving the franchise will continue on for years to come.

Then it was a battle for third place between “Little Women” and “The Grudge.” Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the classic edged out the horror with a .5 million take. But the latest reboot of the “The Grudge” has nothing to be upset about. Despite a 16% Rotten Tomatoes score and an F CinemaScore, the movie overperformed with a .3 million opening weekend (it was made for million).

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

“Knives Out.”

(Lionsgate)

Box-office highlights:

  • Lionsgate/MRC’s “Knives Out” continued to be one of the top-earning original titles released in 2019 (bringing in million over the weekend, only a 9% drop from last weekend), but its performance in China has shocked everyone. Rian Johnson’s whodunit, which he made after doing “The Last Jedi,” has brought in over million in the Middle Kingdom, which is more than what “The Rise of Skywalker” has earned there (over million).
  • A24’s “Uncut Gems” continued to ride its critical acclaim and award season buzz to bring in some impressive box office numbers, as the Safdie brothers movie starring Adam Sandler brought in .8 million over the weekend. That marks only an 18% decline from last weekend contributing to a million cume.
  • Disney’s “Frozen II” is the highest-grossing animated movie of all-time with over id=”listicle-2644164132″.3 billion worldwide. It passes the first “Frozen,” which had the previous record with id=”listicle-2644164132″.28 billion.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

The ‘Finest Hours’ captures old school Semper Paratus

Disney’s “The Finest Hours” tells the story of a Coast Guard motorboat crew dispatched into an Atlantic storm after two 500-foot tankers break apart in 1952.


The crew is led by Boatswain’s Mate Bernard Webber, played by Chris Pine. Webber is second string, the junior ranking boatswain assigned to Chatham lifeboat station in Massachusetts.

The senior boatswain leads the rescue effort to the first tanker reported broken in the storm, the Fort Mercer. So when a Coast Guard plane spots the broken Pendleton, it falls to Webber and a few volunteers to attempt to rescue the 33 survivors in a small motorboat.

The movie does a good job of showing the perils of a rescue at sea in a severe winter storm. The waves crash onto a deadly sandbar with ominous booms, the boat is flipped in the waves, and the compass is ripped from the boat by a severe wave crash.

Crossing the sandbar was one of the most dangerous parts of the mission. Attempts to cross it could have easily destroyed the boat and left the crew drowning in the icy waters.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Photo: Youtube/Disney Movie Trailers

These details and others come from the factual book the movie is based on, and they’re brought to life by Craig Gillespie, the film’s director who spent his young life near the ocean.

“I grew up on the water in Australia, and I have a lot of respect for the ocean,” Gillespie told We Are The Mighty. “I sailed, I grew up surfing.

“When there’s a huge swell, you can hear it a mile and a half from the ocean, and it’s scary,” he said.

While the movie depicts the events on the boat and the Pendleton largely right, it takes more liberties with the story of Webber’s girlfriend, Miriam. During the real rescue, Miriam and Bernard were already married and Miriam was too ill to comprehend when told of Bernard’s mission.

But the movie Miriam is healthy and attempts to aid Bernard from the shore. She first argues with his commanding officer. When that doesn’t help, she seeks ways of ensuring that Bernard, if he’s successful in the rescue, will be able to make it home without a compass or any visible stars to follow.

Actress Holliday Grainger shaped her portrayal of Miriam after speaking to the Webber family and spending time at Chatham lifeboat station that the Coast Guard still operates.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Photo: Youtube/Disney Movie Trailers

She said that Miriam’s journey in the movie is about learning what it takes to be a Coast Guard wife.

“He will always be in danger,” Grainger told We Are The Mighty when discussing Miriam’s attitude toward Bernard, “and if she wants to be with him, she has to live with that, because he does it for the greater good. He can’t always put their family first. He has to put others lives first.”

“The Finest Hours” deftly weaves Bernard and Miriam’s stories, breaking up the chaos at sea with the tension on the coast.

“The Finest Hours” opens in theaters nationwide on Jan. 29.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Everything we know about Olivia Wilde’s secret Marvel movie

Recently, Oliva Wilde shared that she is slated to direct a feature film for Sony Pictures that will take place in the Marvel Universe. While the details are being kept quiet, rumors are that the story will be about Spider-Woman.

Plus, Wilde tweeted a spider emoji and Sony doesn’t have rights to Black Widow, so…


Twitter

twitter.com

Though recently, and exceptionally, depicted in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Spider-Woman has yet to appear in her own film, despite decades of popularity. With Disney’s Marvel films continuing to lead the way in superhero box-office triumphs, it’s never been a better time for Spider-Woman to hit the silver screen.

And Olivia Wilde is the perfect person to lead the charge. Last year, her feature film debut Booksmart delighted audiences and critics alike, thrusting Wilde forward as a powerhouse in her own right. The Independent Spirit Award winning director joins Booksmart writer Katie Silberman and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producer Amy Pascal to create the highly-anticipated film.

Wilde will follow in the footsteps of female filmmakers finally getting long overdue opportunities to bring superheroes to life, including Patty Jenkins, Cathy Yan, Chloe Zhao, and Nia DaCosta — as a result, we probably don’t have to worry about another Spider-Woman butt-gate.

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals

Controversial Spider-Woman #1 cover art. (Marvel)

Instead, Wilde and Silberman ought to give us a pretty good time. Whether Wilde’s Spider-Woman will be Gwen Stacy (as she was in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Mary Jane Watson, or the OG Jessica Drew is unknown. And of course, it’s always possible the film could be about another character altogether. Sony had been slated to bring forth a Madame Webb film — and there’s always Silk, the Cindy Moon character who was bit by the same spider and on the same day as Peter Parker but who was then locked in a bunker as a result of her powers (dark, right)?

All we have to go on is a little emoji in a big Twitterverse. And if we think we might be getting any more hints anytime soon, we appear to be, sadly, mistaken.

Twitter

twitter.com


MIGHTY MOVIES

Green Berets remember first mission in Afghanistan after 9/11 (Part II)

The movie “12 Strong” arrives in theaters this Friday, and tells the harrowing story of the first U.S. special forces mission in Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The following is the second part of an Army.mil exclusive three-part feature recounts the events of the Green Berets’ first mission in Afghanistan, as they sought to destroy the Taliban regime and deny Al-Qaida sanctuary in that country.


ON THE GROUND

Special operations forces have a famously tight bond. As the Green Berets stepped off the SOAR’s highly modified MH-47 Chinooks into Afghanistan, they stepped back in time, to a time of dirt roads and horses. They stepped into another world, one of arid deserts and towering peaks, of “rugged, isolated, beautiful, different colored stones and geographical formations, different shades of red in the morning as the sun came up,” said Maj. Mark Nutsch, then the commander of ODA 595, one of the first two 12-man teams to arrive in Afghanistan. The world was one of all-but-impassable trails, of “a canyon with very dominating, several-hundred-feet cliffs.” It was a world of freezing nights, where intelligence was slim, women were invisible, and friend and foe looked the same.

They arrived in the middle of the night, of course, to the sort of pitch blackness that can only be found miles from electricity and civilization, at the mercy of the men waiting for them. “We weren’t sure how friendly the link up was going to be,” said Nutsch. “We were prepared for a possible hot insertion. … We were surrounded by — on the LZ there were armed militia factions. … We had just set a helicopter down in that. … It was tense, but … the link up went smoothly.”

HORSEMEN

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
Starting Oct. 19, 2001, 12-man Special Forces detachments from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) began arriving in Afghanistan in the middle of the night, transported by aviators from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Battalion (Airborne). They were the first ground Soldiers of the war on terrorism following 9-11 and their mission was to destroy the Taliban regime and deny Al-Qaida sanctuary in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Special Operations Command)

The various special forces teams that were in Afghanistan split into smaller three-man and six-man cells to cover more ground. Some of them quickly found themselves on borrowed horses, in saddles meant for Afghans who were much lighter and shorter than American Green Berets. Most of the Soldiers had never ridden before, and they learned by immediately riding for hours, forced to keep up with skilled Afghan horsemen, on steeds that constantly wanted to fight each other.

But that’s what Green Berets do: they adapt and overcome. “The guys did a phenomenal job learning how to ride that rugged terrain,” said Nutsch, who worked on a cattle ranch and participated in rodeos in college. Even so, riding requires muscles most Americans don’t use every day, and after a long day in the saddle, the Soldiers were in excruciating pain, especially as the stirrups were far too short. They had to start jerry-rigging the stirrups with parachute cord.

“Initially you had a different horse for every move … and you’d have a different one, different gait or just willingness to follow the commands of the rider,” Nutsch remembered. “A lot of them didn’t have a bit or it was a very crude bit. The guys had to work through all of that and use less than optimal gear. … Eventually we got the same pool of horses we were using regularly.”

Also Read: ’12 Strong’ showcases the best of America’s fighting spirit

Nutsch had always been a history buff, and he had carefully studied Civil War cavalry charges and tactics, but he had never expected to ride horses into battle. In fact, it was the first time American Soldiers rode to war on horseback since World War II, and this ancient form of warfare was now considered unconventional.

“We’re blending, basically, 19th-century tactics with 20th-century weapons and 21st-century technology in the form of GPS, satellite communications, American air power,” Nutsch pointed out.

AUDACITY

And there were military tactics involved. Even the timing of the attacks was crucial. Nutsch remembers wondering why the Northern Alliance wanted to go after the Taliban midafternoon instead of in the morning, but it accounted for their slower speed on horseback, while still leaving time to consolidate any gains before darkness fell. (They didn’t have night vision goggles.)

‘CHiPs’ gave us one of the first positive Vietnam-vet portrayals
U.S. Army special operators confer with Afghan chieftains and resistance fighters. Starting Oct. 19, 2001, 12-man Special Forces detachments from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) began arriving in Afghanistan in the middle of the night, transported by aviators from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Battalion (Airborne). They were the first ground Soldiers of the war on terrorism following 9-11 and their mission was to destroy the Taliban regime and deny Al-Qaida sanctuary in Afghanistan. They scouted bomb targets and teamed with local resistance groups. Some of the Green Berets found themselves riding horses, becoming the first American Soldiers to ride to war on horseback since World War II. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Special Operations Command)

Supported by the Green Berets, Northern Alliance fighters directly confronted the Taliban over and over again. Some factions, like Nutsch’s, relied on horses for that first month. Others had pickup trucks or other vehicles, but they usually charged into battle armed with little more than AK-47s, machine guns, grenades and a few handfuls of ammunition. Meanwhile, the Taliban had tanks and armored personnel carriers and antiaircraft guns they used as cannons, all left behind by the Soviets when they evacuated Afghanistan in the 1980s.

It took a lot of heart, a lot of courage. “We heard a loud roar coming from the west,” said Master Sgt. Keith Gamble, then a weapons sergeant on ODA 585, as he remembered one firefight. “We had no clue what it was until we saw about 500 to 1,000 NA soldiers charging up the ridge line. I called it a ‘Brave Heart’ charge. What the NA didn’t realize was that the route leading up the ridgeline was heavily mined. The NA did not fare too well, as they received numerous injuries and had to retreat. We continued to pound the ridge line with bombs until the NA took it that evening.”

“They weren’t suicidal,” Nutsch, who worked with different ethnic groups, agreed, “but they did have the courage to get up and quickly close that distance on those vehicles so they could eliminate that vehicle or that crew. We witnessed their bravery on several occasions where they charged down our flank (to attack) these armored vehicles or these air defense guns that are being used in a direct fire role, and kill the crew and capture that gun for our own use.”

Green Berets remember first mission in Afghanistan after 9/11 (Part I)

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