In an effort to have its antiterror work portrayed more favorable in movies, the FBI hosted its first workshop for screenwriters yesterday in Los Angeles, Reuters reports. “FBI — Crime Essential for Writers” played well with a standing-room-only audience of executives and writers from several major and minor studios. Enthusiastic attendees had more questions than the four-hour event had time for.
FBI public affairs specialist Betsy Glick, who helped create the workshop, said that last year the FBI helped lend authenticity to 649 projects, usually films, TV shows and books. Michael Kortan of the FBI public affairs office gave attendees a brief lesson in the history of the FBI in film and TV, beginning with the 1935 James Cagney movie “‘G’ Men,” which he said was one of the first gangster movies to tell a story from the FBI’s perspective. Former director J. Edgar Hoover conceived of something he called “The Dillinger Rule” — the FBI had great stories to tell, so Hollywood ought to tell them, and make sure that the FBI were the good guys. And he wanted to know about anything FBI-related that Hollywood had in the works. The 1965 Disney film “That Darn Cat!” had Hoover on edge, Kortan said, because he feared that a film about an allergic agent assigned to follow a cat would make the FBI look silly. Too often, Kortan said, the FBI is seen on film, unrealistically, as heavy-handed, bumbling, and antagonistic toward other law-enforcement agencies.