People might assume that since Hollywood leans to the political left, the CIA’s relationships “would be with the sort of conservative picket of Hollywood,” Rizzo said in an interview. “Well, that’s not true. People one would normally associated with liberal causes have assisted CIA.”
Alas, Rizzo is prohibited from naming names. They are classified. The CIA declined to comment.
He did, however, provide some detail about the types of help the agency has solicited from Hollywood. At times, Rizzo said, film makers will be asked to allow a CIA operative to pose as a member of their crew, particularly if a movie is being filmed in a country where the spy agency has difficulty operating.
The CIA also recruits actors to give more visibility to propaganda projects abroad, such as a documentary secretly produced by the agency, Rizzo said. And the agency sometimes takes advantage of the door-opening cachet that movie stars and other American celebrities enjoy. A star who met a world leader, for example, might be asked for details about that meeting.
The CIA has officials assigned full time to the care and feeding of Hollywood assets, Rizzo wrote. Other former CIA officials added that some of those operatives work in the Los Angeles office of an agency department called the National Resources Division, which recruits people in the U.S. to help America spy abroad.
“It was going on when I got there, and it was going on when I left,” in 2009, Rizzo said, adding that the activities continue.
“Hollywood people are glamorous,” he said. “They get access and entre to people overseas that the U.S. government doesn’t.”
In the book, Rizzo quoted an unidentified colleague who worked for years with film makers, offering a theory about their motivation.
Rizzo described a scene from “years ago” when one of the CIA’s Hollywood recruiters came to him with news that a major film star wanted to work for the agency after he found out a rival actor had been doing so. “Now this actor was offering his own name and services to us. Free of charge. Anything he could do. Just out of his patriotic duty.”
There was one catch, Rizzo’s colleague told him:
Rizzo’s response: “No. No way. Forget it.”
The star helped anyway, Rizzo wrote.