The CIA Has A New Man On a Special Mission -- to Hollywood

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Lights, cameras, spies! The CIA has named Paul Barry as its new entertainment liaison. His mission: to showcase the cloak-and-dagger agency in a warmer light in movies, TV, fiction and even children's books. "We want to convey the sense that we're approachable," he said yesterday. "It's not James Bond. It's a lot of regular people overachieving."

The FBI and Defense Department teamed up with Hollywood decades ago to put a positive spin on their images in pop culture. Barry's predecessor, Chase Brandon, created the CIA liaison post in 1996 to try to reverse those crazed-rogue-agents portrayals of the agency. Now Barry, a 20-year federal intelligence officer (he won't reveal details), wants to promote a broader picture of the operation: not just spies, but also the analysts, engineers and technical staff who make the place run.

So, how's Hollywood's version of the CIA these days? The 48-year-old Boston native (a fan of spy novels and the Red Sox) gives thumbs up to the film versions of Tom Clancy's "Patriot Games" and "The Hunt for Red October." He liked Jennifer Garner in "Alias" (what warmblooded man didn't?) but calls Fox's torture-heavy "24" good theater but not very accurate: "Very few officers even carry a weapon."

And since you asked: Everyone at Langley pretty much hated last year's "The Good Shepherd." "That's a lamentable piece of fiction masquerading as a documentary," he said. "We weren't happy with that at all."

At the Capitol, an Alumnae Night Out

Nancy Pelosi, with husband Paul, feeling nostalgic.
Nancy Pelosi, with husband Paul, feeling nostalgic.
There's always someone at those college reunions trumping everyone by looking younger, flying higher or wearing Armani suits to die for. But no one seemed to be seething when Nancy Pelosi attended her 45th reunion at Trinity University, the Catholic women's college in Northeast D.C. The House speaker slipped into Saturday's campus luncheon in a pale green suit and got a standing ovation from 400 alumnae from various reunion classes. That night she hosted a dinner for the roughly 70 members of her Class of 1962 at the Capitol's National Statuary Hall; husband Paul Pelosi gave each a pin that said "Madame Speaker 2007." "We're very proud of her achievements," said one classmate, "but she'll always be Nancy to us."

For Eric Alterman, No Room for Debate

Columnist Eric Alterman was arrested Sunday at the Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire after apparently wandering into the wrong open-bar reception and allegedly refusing to leave. (There but for the grace of God go we.)

The media critic for the Nation wrote yesterday that the incident was a "misunderstanding" that happened when he was sent to watch the debate from the "spin room"; he ended up in what looked like an open reception but was actually a private party for a local TV station. Alterman exchanged words with a station exec, who called the cops. "He was asked to leave a restricted area, he failed to do so . . . [an officer] also asked him to leave the restricted area and he failed to do so," said Goffstown, N.H., Police Chief Mike French. Alterman was charged with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, and released.

Coming to HBO: 'The Wire' at The Post

Making a rare screen appearance as itself: The Washington Post. A crew from HBO's "The Wire" spent more than six hours filming in our very own offices Sunday, the first time in anyone's recent memory that a movie or TV show has been allowed to shoot here. (Even "All the President's Men" had to re-create the newsroom on a sound stage, and that one was all about us. Word is that some bosses here are big fans of the gritty Baltimore crime drama.)

The plot of the fifth season (set to air early next year) focuses on the media, with some scenes filmed at the Baltimore Sun; Sunday's shoot involved a reporter interviewing for a job at The Post. Style chief Deb Heard's office played the office of a fictional Post Metro editor. (Note to hard-core fans: Apparently it was all new characters, so, no -- McNulty, Avon and Omar weren't here.)

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