Tag Archives: George Clooney

The CIA and Hollywood episode 11 The Men Who Stare at Goats

Jay Dyer joins us for this episode where we analyse the 2009 comedy The Men Who Stare at Goats, loosely based on Jon Ronson’s book of the same name. It tells the story of a journalist who is inducted into the world of psychic soldiers during the Iraq war. The movie goes on to explain some of the history behind the First Earth Battalion, an experimental Pentagon unit devoted to developing a new generation of super soldier informed by the hippy and New Age movements. We examine what the film leaves out, especially in the form of MKULTRA and similar CIA projects and experiments with similar aims, and ask whether the purpose was not to ask ‘How could love and peace help win wars?’ but to weaponise New Age philosophy and the New Age movement.

The Men Who Stare at Goats is the final movie in the George Clooney/Grant Heslov series before they took the full plunge and made Argo with the help of the CIA. We look at whether Goats – Heslov’s directorial debut – was the final step in their long-term overture to the CIA. The fact that Goats reduces the CIA’s involvement in such projects to a single scene, and was distributed by none other than Overture Films are strong hints towards this. We also map out the evidence and implications of state sponsorship of the entire Goats project, from Ronson’s original book and documentary series through to the Hollywood version. The use of technical advisors who were part of these Pentagon units back in the 70s/80s and who were ‘reactivated’ to help fight the War on Terror implies that at least the DOD, if not the CIA, were in favour of this film. We round off by pondering the plausibility of the remote viewing phenomenon.

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Show Notes:

The Men Who Stare at Goats (book)

Crazy Rulers of the World (documentary series)

The Men Who Stare at Goats (film)

First Earth Battalion Field Manual

Jim Channon’s website (archived)

Goats Declassified: The real men of the First Earth Battalion

Project Hollywood

Pearse Redmond Patreon

Tom Secker Patreon

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The CIA and Hollywood episode 10 Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Aaron Franz joins us to discuss the 2002 biopic Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which tells the story of game show producer and host Chuck Barris. Barris claims that while becoming a TV star he was recruited by and worked for the CIA as an assassin, killing a total of 33 people. In this episode we analyse this claim, which has been dismissed by the Agency as a ludicrous fantasy. We examine Barris’ true life history, focusing in on his marriage to Lyn Levy – the daughter of one of the founders of CBS – and his incredibly selfish relationship with their daughter Della. None of this appears in the film so taking this into account we consider whether Barris was a CIA assassin, a psychopathic fabricator or an emotionally warped narcissist (or all of these things rolled into one). If Barris truly was a CIA agent then what was his job? Was he an assassin, or did they employ him to ‘slay the audience’ by developing the prototypes for reality TV?

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is also notable for being George Clooney’s directorial debut, and a production that languished in development hell for years before he became involved and began pulling strings to ensure the film got made. We consider whether the movie was one of Clooney’s attempts to gain the attention and approval of the CIA, and whether he too thought that Barris’ TV career was the real mission for the Agency. We examine Clooney’s self-appointed role as Chuck’s ‘defence lawyer’, his obsession with goats and why he employed theatrical visual tricks throughout the production. We round off comparing Confessions of a Dangerous Mind to The Recruit, as both films show The Farm (the CIA’s semi-secret agent training facility) and portray the protagonist being inducted and initiated into that covert world.

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Show Notes:

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (film)

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (book)

The Real Chuck Barris

Chuck Barris: Is is True?

Broadcast Pioneers: Leon Levy

William Paley Obituary

Della Barris

Lynne Levy Equestrians

Chuck Barris ‘My Life on the Edge’

The Drexel Interview: Chuck Barris

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Tom Secker Patreon

The CIA and Hollywood episode 9 Good Night and Good Luck

We welcome Ed Opperman to the series and discuss the 2005 docudrama Good Night, and Good Luck which retells the story of the 1954 confrontation between senator Joe McCarthy and television journalist Ed Murrow of CBS. McCarthy was pursuing Communists within the State Department and other government agencies and innocent people were getting caught in the crossfire, creating a climate of suspicion, mistrust and hostility. Murrow used his prime time series See It Now to attack McCarthy and the culture and mentality of McCarthyism, showing the senator to be a hypocrite who persecuted his targets.

This is the story that is told in Good Night, and Good Luck, a film born out of the creative relationship between George Clooney and Grant Heslov. In this episode we take a sideways look at the historical events and ask why Clooney and Heslov chose to lionise not just Murrow but the whole See it Now/CBS crew. We try to persuade Ed of an alternative interpretation of events, with Murrow not quite being the heroic counter-establishment figure he is in the film and CBS being a rotten media organisation with deep ties to the CIA. We then explore how almost everyone involved in Good Night, and Good Luck had either already made a film with CIA assistance, or went on to do so. We round off talking about Clooney’s bizarre Las Vegas connection, E Michael Burke, George Steinbrenner and (inevitably) Donald Trump.

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Show Notes:

Good Night, and Good Luck

Making of Featurette

Edward R. Murrow: “A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy”

Good Night, and Good Luck and Bad History (part 1)

Good Night, and Good Luck and Bad History (part 2)

The CIA and the Media (Carl Bernstein)

ClandesTime 034 – The Hollywood Ten

When the CIA used CBS to stop a TV Show from Being Made

E Michael Burke

Afternoon Commute with Chris Kendall and John Adams interview

hoaxbusters

I was recently on The Afternoon Commute with Chris Kendall and John Adams to discuss my new show, The CIA and Hollywood.  We discuss the first season of the show and what to expect for upcoming seasons.  We focus on the culture creation aspect of the CIA, and how they are influencing not only societal norms, but influencing our opinions on events and people.  Later we move onto a wide variety of topics including: Chase Brandon,George Orwell, 1984, Animal Farm,The Congress for Cultural Freedom, Peter Wright, Spy Catcher, Ben Afleck, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie The Quiet American, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Chuck Barris, Operation Mockingbird, CBS, The Social Network, Hill and Knowlton, Wag the Dog, Weaponized Culture,Judd Apatow, Modern Art, Presidential Elections, Shepard Fairey, Paul Begala, K Street, Pro Wrestling, The Clintons, Boston Bombing, Sandy Hook, Reality Television, The OJ Simpson Trial,Duck Dynasty,Libertarianism, Anarchism, The Gold Standard, Ron Paul, the Constitution, John Bush,September 11.

This is a wide ranging and long podcast (nearly three hours)  We don’t agree on everything, but it is well worth a listen.

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The CIA and Hollywood episode 7 Argo

Pearse and Tom round off season 1 looking at the 2012 Oscar winning historical drama Argo, which is based on a real life exfiltration operation during the Iranian revolution.  We discuss the CIA’s almost too-obvious involvement in the film, the background of how the story was declassified and turned into a movie including the shadowy figures of producer David Klawans and writer Chris Terrio.  We stick the boot into Ben Affleck and his film, not just for its ‘Reel Bad Arabs’ racism but also its outrageous and possibly intentional historical inaccuracy.  We analyse the weirdest Oscars ceremony ever, where Argo producers Affleck, George Clooney and Grant Heslov won the Best Picture award, before wrapping up by reflecting back on season 1 of this series and briefly looking forward to season 2.

Download The CIA and Hollywood ep. 7

Show Notes:

Argo (full film)

Argo Declassified

The CIA and Hollywood connection – Argo making of

Argo: Inside story

A Classic Case of Deception

How the CIA used a fake sci-fi flick to rescue Americans from Tehran

Jimmy Carter on Argo film

Ben Affleck changes postscript for Ken Taylor

Ben Affleck’s new film ‘Argo’ upsets British diplomats who helped Americans in Iran

New Zealand’s role in Iran crisis tainted in Affleck’s new film

Argo commentary and Q&A with Tony and Jonna Mendez

Ben Affleck Oscar speech

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