Officials with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration briefed producers, directors and writers on the connection between drug trafficking and terrorism, and offered to consult on movies and television programs.
About 40 people, including film directors Michael Mann and Arthur Hiller and people behind such TV series as "Third Watch" and "E.R.," gathered at the Beverly Hills Hotel Wednesday to hear DEA Director Asa Hutchinson, as well as the agency's intelligence chief and a former undercover agent.
"I was stunned," said Anne Sweeney, president of ABC Cable Networks Group, a unit of The Walt Disney Co. "It helped deepen people's understanding of the challenges our country faces in the war on drugs."
The meeting was organized by the Entertainment Industries Council, a nonprofit group that helps writers and producers depict social and health issues including AIDS, alcohol abuse and gun violence.
"The DEA knows more about terrorism and drugs than anybody," said Brian Dyak, the EIC's president and chief executive. "If they're willing to open their doors a little and the information becomes a part of story lines, it's a service to the public."
A DEA spokesman said the agency is trying to emerge from its often necessary shroud of secrecy to offer technical help the same way the Pentagon and the CIA consult on movies such as the recent blockbuster "The Sum of All Fears."
"We don't expect to try and directly shape what some screenwriter is going to write," DEA spokesman Chris Battle said. "Our goal was simply to provide a more realistic and accurate version of the drug war and what kind of challenges, what kind of threats our agents face every day."