Dem bill gets government out of the movie-making business

Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) has introduced legislation that would prohibit the government from spending any money to help in the filming of movies, TV shows and other entertainment.

Barrow said he proposed the bill, H.R. 4072, because the government needs to stop spending money on these projects and focus on deficit reduction.

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"It's time for the federal government live within its means, just like folks in Georgia do each and every day," Barrow said on his Facebook page this week. "Let's leave plot lines and character dialogue to the folks in Hollywood and focus on what's really important — working together to cut reckless spending and create a long-term plan for deficit reduction."

The bill is one paragraph that says no federal department or agency can spend money to provide technical assistance to any nongovernment entity "for the production of any motion picture, television show, documentary, music videos, commercial advertisement, CD-ROM game, or other audiovisual program."

Barrow did not single out any specific government agency helping in the production of movies and TV shows, but he said several agencies have offices to ensure programming portrays the government in a "positive light."

The Department of Defense, for example, has a Special Assistant for Entertainment Media based in Washington that helps in the production of movies, TV, video games and other media. According to the department's website, each branch of the armed services has an office in Los Angeles to help with the production of these products.

The relationship between Washington and Hollywood was the subject of heated debate in 2012, after the movie "Zero Dark Thirty" was released. That movie depicted the killing of Osama bin Laden, and it was later reported that former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed top-secret information about that operation.

Members of the Senate later argued the movie depicted harsh torture techniques that were used to extract information about bin Laden's location. They said it's not accurate to say torture helped the U.S. find bin Laden, but in doing so, also showed Washington's ongoing interest in how movies portray the government.