Hollywood studios, already nervous in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, have tightened security after the FBI warned they could be targeted.
Entrances were shut down, barricades were ordered set in place, and studio tours were canceled, Daily Variety reported today.
"The FBI provided a threat advisory to the movie studios in Los Angeles," the trade paper quoted FBI spokeswoman Cheryl Mimura as saying. "The uncorroborated threat states that a film studio in California could be the target of a terrorist attack in retaliation for any possible bombing attacks by the United States in Afghanistan. It seems to be a credible threat."
Studios Increase Security Daily Variety said it obtained memos from sources at five studios, all detailing new security measures. The studios were Fox Entertainment Group Inc.'s 20th Century Fox, Sony Corp.'s Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Co., Vivendi Universal's Universal Pictures, and AOL Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros, it said.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. planned to notify employees of new security measures on Friday, the paper said.
In response, some of Hollywood's top talent agencies have advised their stars to stop taking meetings at the studios for now, the paper said. Among the studios, Universal City-based Universal would continue to operate its popular — and profitable — studio tours, though it is "tightening and increasing security," Daily Variety said. Warner Bros. closed three studio gates on its Burbank lot, set up barricades, and was planning to install armed guard details and metal detectors. All incoming packages were to be x-rayed, and all vehicles would be subject to search.
A Disney memo assured Burbank employees that the studio was taking "extraordinary precautions" to ensure their safety and "working diligently with the FBI and local law enforcement."
The Fox memo warned employees at the Century City-based studio that "we will all be subject to long delays entering the facility," and as a result, "we urge you to remain on the lot during the day." The memo from Culver City-based Sony said local police would increase their patrols.
We can only imagine the security measures at tonight's live, all-star, fund-raising telethon, which will be filmed at CBS's Television City in Los Angeles and a Sony stage in New York City. Last week's attacks have forced the studios and television networks to scrap, postpone, or tinker with projects that had terrorist-related themes. Additionally, the TV networks, most of which are corporate siblings of film studios, have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenues. The uncertain economic picture has sent media stocks tumbling. Reuters contributed to this story.