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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "My So-Called C.I.A. Life": Hollywood, Langley and the Funeral Business All Involve Plots

We have slain a large dragon. But we live now in a jungle filled with a bewildering variety of poisonous snakes. And in many ways, the dragon was easier to keep track of.

- R. James Woolsey, Director of Central Intelligence, 1993–1995

Not unlike "A Game of Thrones," the snakes remain, but the dragon is on its way back. Thank you, Barack and John. Thank you, Vladimir.

"Homeland"? I don't think I can bring myself to watch it.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "My So-Called C.I.A. Life" (, Maureen Dowd describes a meeting between the actors and writers of "Homeland" and some "C.I.A. folk" at Langley:

"Alex Gansa, the co-creator and show runner of 'Homeland,' called the two-hour meeting at Langley with his stars, writers and executives and a flock of C.I.A. officers 'a frank and free exchange about the entertainment business and the intelligence business that revealed a lot of parallels.' He added dryly, 'We both build sets. We both play roles. And we both brainstorm, about operations on their side and storylines on ours.'"

A lot of parallels? I don't know anything about the CIA, and I know little about Hollywood. My one attempt at a screenplay some 15 years ago - involving a CIA effort to destroy a certain Middle East atomic weapons facility carved into a mountain - was ultimately rejected. Of course, both Langley and Hollywood involve plots, as does the funeral business.

But I wonder how many of the stars and writers of "Homeland" are suffering from PTSD as a result of their association with the show?

I wonder how many of the stars can truly imagine what it is for a field agent to be stressed beyond human limits, alone and without a director waiting to cry, "Let's call that a wrap!," thereby putting an end to his or her unbearable anxiety. The long-term effects of such anxiety? Obviously, it varies from one individual to the next.

I also wonder if anyone from "Homeland" is familiar, for example, with the circumstances surrounding the death of an American hero named William Francis Buckley in 1985, after his capture by Hezbollah in Lebanon?

Perhaps, if they wish to sleep nights, they're better off not knowing.

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