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[infowar.de] Hollywood und Pentagon denken gemeinsam über Kriege der Zukunft nach
Ältere Berichte über diese Kooperation:
LA Times 19.07.02
Coming to an Army Near You
In Marina del Rey, the low-profile Institute for Creative Technology
Hollywood types to concoct battle scenes to help the military train.
By DANA CALVO
TIMES STAFF WRITER
July 19 2002
Three big-name Hollywood talents huddle around a conference table and
the ideas fly.
"Apocalypse Now" co-writer John Milius sketches a soldier of the future
with a Transformer-like weapon that doubles as a vehicle part.
David Ayer, who wrote "Training Day," suggests building sensors that
every weapon system in the country. Ron Cobb, the creature designer for
"Star Wars," describes a personnel carrier with four independent
wheels that could "whip around and is buffered with lots of shields."
This Hollywood brainstorming session will never produce something for
neighborhood megaplex. That's because it took place not on a studio lot
inside a nondescript Army think tank on a quiet street in Marina del
The Institute for Creative Technology is the country's only organization
that draws on entertainment industry know-how to sharpen military
through futuristic games and simulation. The institute's Hollywood
consultants also write story lines for virtual-reality military training
videos--plots with swirling suspense and drama that aim to make a
training more compelling.
Since it was founded in 1999, the institute has popped in and out of
view, vacillating between the military's need-to-know tradition of
and Hollywood's need-to-dish culture. Most recently, it drew national
notice when it asked screenwriters, producers and directors to generate
terrorist scenarios in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Their ideas have been kept under wraps; one Army spokeswoman cited
security in declining to release them.
From the outside, the office building looks as forgettable as a 1970s
bank. Inside is another story. The interiors were created by Paramount's
Herman Zimmerman, who was in charge of production design for several
Trek" movies and TV series. The blond wood walls pitch toward the
a la the Starship Enterprise, and automatic pocket doors pull apart down
the middle and close back up again with that unmistakable shush.
While the institute has Hollywood and military consultants on retainer,
there are 45 full-time scientists, researchers and administrators who
in offices equipped with bunk beds.
"They bring in people with diverse backgrounds: artificial intelligence,
video game people, social research people," Ayer said. "It's like the
amazing dinner party."
This "party" costs the Army $45 million in a five-year contract, and
millions more come from other military branches. Hollywood consultants
paid anywhere from $500 to $1,000 a day, although most work only a few
"It's decent pay," Ayer said, "but it's not Hollywood scriptwriting
In all, Ayer and his fellow out-of-the-box thinkers pull about $1
year from ICT's budget. But the money moves both ways between the
and Hollywood. Paramount pledged $600,000 for a virtual-reality theater
called ALTSim (Advanced Leadership Training Simulation); the studio can
repackage elements of the technology into commercial games. And the
institute already has received most of the $3.3 million promised for a
project by game developer Pandemic Studios and Sony Pictures Imageworks,
one of the leading digital labs in the country.
Ties to USC
The institute is affiliated with USC, which has provided up to $2
in graphics technology and dozens of student interns during the summer.
Army's other futuristic university-affiliated research center is the
Institute for Advanced Technology, founded at the University of Texas at
Austin in 1994 with a five-year contract to study lethality and
While the Texas institution relies on medical, science and arms experts,
much of ICT's expertise comes straight from Hollywood.
"It says a lot about our military that they don't feel sufficiently
comfortable thinking out of the box and they have to go outside of
themselves for that advice," said Christopher Hellman, senior analyst at
the Center for Defense Initiatives, a nonprofit, independent think tank
Washington, D.C. "They need someone without that baggage to think almost
whimsically about their structure."
The premise for this type of collaboration is not new; the military and
Hollywood have long helped each other, most recently with extensive
technical support from the Pentagon on military-themed movies like
Hawk Down," "Behind Enemy Lines" and "The Sum of All Fears." And just
week, the head of research and development at Walt Disney Co. announced
was leaving to head all research at the Pentagon's National Security
The Army keeps tabs on ICT through daily e-mails with its executive
and extensive monthly reports. Many of its Hollywood consultants say the
institute provides welcome distance from the entertainment industry's
relentless emphasis on generating commercial hits.
"I don't find the film entertainment world that liberating. It's pretty
formulaic," said onetime Hollywood producer and writer Jim Korris, who
serves as ICT's creative director. "Entertainment companies don't reward
Some view the institute with suspicion, envisioning something out of the
1997 movie comedy "Wag the Dog," in which the White House recruited
Hollywood's best spin doctors and a few technical wizards to stage a
war to squelch news of the president's mistress.
"There is a power elite, and it's Hollywood-Washington-Pentagon," said
James Der Derian, author of "Virtuous War: Mapping the
Military-Industrial-Media-Entertainment Network" (2001). "They created
ICT to create scenarios for the future of war, but what Hollywood gets
of it, of course, is whiz-bang technologies."
A. Michael Andrews II, the Army's chief scientist and the institute's
founder, said one of its finest hours came after last fall's terrorist
"Since we had such a very unusual action against the United States, I
thought it might be worthwhile to look outside our normal way of
about the problem," Andrews said. He asked ICT to corral entertainment
industry volunteers who could dream up terrorist plot lines in hopes
might expose a weakness in the real-life anti-terrorism network.
This panel of about 30 Hollywood volunteers, some of whom were already
institute consultants, met during two evenings in October, creating
terrorist "characters" and then following the story lines through. They
wanted to know what tools were available to the soldiers who would be
exploring unlit caves. They also wanted to know what was being done to
deter the hypothetical terrorist characters.
"It was ad hoc; a number of people asked to participate for a limited
period of time," said David Engelbach, a former writer for the
TV series. Engelbach, like several other writers contacted for this
declined to discuss his contributions, saying he had been asked by the
Pentagon to keep his ideas confidential.
Cobb, the conceptual set designer for sci-fi movies such as "Star Wars"
"Aliens," said the sessions proved Hollywood's dreamers could
with the Pentagon's heavyweights. "I think we impressed the military,
probably thought we were all flakes."
ICT began, as most Hollywood projects do, with a "meeting on the lot."
was 1999, and the lot was Paramount.
Andrews, who has a doctorate in electrical engineering, arrived with a
picture of a bridge arching between the Pentagon and the Hollywood sign.
Korris, accustomed to high-tech gadgets and slick presentations, it
both clumsy and endearing.
Andrews held up his paper-and-glue visual aid and explained that he
to immerse soldiers in training that would be as convincing as
silver-screen entertainment. He wanted the soldier to feel, smell and
in real time to the scenario.
"The military had very accurate, big training exercises, but it wasn't
entertaining," Korris said. "That's a problem for the young recruits.
Andrews wanted to come up with training technologies that might be more
At its opening ceremony at the Marina del Rey offices on Sept. 26, 2000,
the audience was packed with top military brass as well as Hollywood's
chief lobbyist, Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Assn. of
Within a few months, ICT had attracted an array of consultants who don't
fit neatly into Hollywood's left-leaning image.
Ayer spent two years in the Navy as a sonar man aboard a nuclear
Cobb fought in the Vietnam War. And Milius is a proud hawk.
"They haven't sent me to Afghanistan," Milius said, "but I'm waiting."
Other Hollywood consultants at ICT include Paul De Meo, co-writer of
Rocketeer," and veteran director Randal Kleiser, whose credits stretch
to "Grease" and "The Blue Lagoon."
They are overseen by Executive Director Richard Lindheim, the former
executive vice president of Paramount Television Group. Korris, the
creative director, is a former producer at Ron Howard's production
Imagine, and a longtime writer for episodic television shows such as
"Murder, She Wrote," "Simon & Simon" and "Miami Vice."
But David Williams, vice president of policy for the watchdog group
Citizens Against Government Waste, is not impressed with the Tinseltown
Williams wonders how the Pentagon could justify spending a million
a year on Hollywood consultants.
"Aren't there a few out-of-work writers who could do it for cheaper? A
million dollars in the scheme of the federal budget isn't much, but a
million dollars is still a million dollars," he said. "A few years ago,
Pentagon was working on caffeinated gum, and I put this in the same
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