DHS: The Series, the scandal, the website.

Following up on yesterday's post about Joseph Medawar , the Hollywood scam artist producer arrested for allegedly swindling over $5.5 million from churches and little old ladies for a Department of Homeland Security TV show said to be backed by the Bush administration —

* Here's the website for DHS: The Series. Flash with obnoxious sound.

* Here's the trailer: Link, and mirror link (12.8 MB QuickTime), full of stolen or stock but undeniably schlock footage. A synopsis:

– VO: Bush's declaration on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001. "The deliberate and deadly attacks which were carried out yesterday against our country were more than acts of terror. They were acts of war."

– Innocent American children frolic carelessly through ominous blue daisy fields.
– Dirka-dirka terrorists!
– Agents with furrowed brows peer into cellphones
– Dirka-dirka terrorists!
– DHS helicopters zoom, DHS SUVs vroom, DHS guns boom

* Medawar's business partner, actor/co-producer Alison Heruth-Waterbury appears in the trailer. She has not yet been charged in the case, but her acting is a crime.

* Nextel and a local Ford dealership are listed as sponsors. That explains all the freedom-fighting-gadget placements in the aforementioned trailer, but not the Chevy Suburbans.

* Here's the merch (Link to mirror). Surely the shoddy photoshoppery evidenced on the DHS-The-Series-branded "Aluminum Coffee Mug, "Class Coasters," and "Elegant Pen" raised an alert somewhere? Nobody honest uses bevel + emboss + drop shadow anymore. Also, try lugging Non-lethal Laser Pointer #11 through airport security.

* You can learn a lot about people by reading their source code. Behold, the opened kimono of www.dhstheseries.tv:

meta name="keywords" content="dhs, department of homeland security, action, spy, terrorist, group, guns, secret, weapon, attack, threat, threat colors, orange, blue, red, yellow, green, screen, drone, army, east, Iraq, producer, Joe medowar, steven blinn, stefan beese, mathew crouch, michel shane, chris bialek, metin berekli, police, cars! , fighter jet, machine gun, gashed, swat, prayer, Showtime, network, broadcast, harbor, TV, TV series, pilot, terror, agency, Cannes, mipcom, helicopter, chase, seal, president, terrorism, security, thriller, international, usa, Alison heruth waterbury, timothy patrick cavanaough, monitor, advisory system, explosion"

* Yesterday's LA Times story on DHS: The Scandal called Medawar and co's claims that DHS: The Series was backed by high-ranking Bush administration staff "false." Funny, that's not what the press said six months ago. The "News" section on www.dhstheseries.tv points to earlier press clips which present the administration support claims as fact.

E! Online News: Bush Backs New Terrorism TV Series by Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn, Feb 26, 2004.

US News and World Report: "Team Bush Lends a hand to a brand-new TV show." Link.

Boston Globe: Homeland Security Meets Home Theater. "The [E! Online report] raised eyebrows because the Bush-Cheney campaign intends to make the president's 'war on terrorism' a central prong in his reelection strategy. Pushing a pseudoreality show on that subject as the campaign enters its final stretch would be unprecedented." Feb. 28, 2004.

WaPo: "War President 'Loves' New TV Show."

Fact-checking, anyone? And finally, dhstheseries.tv features what appears to be a faked Hollywood Reporter cover from Feb. 2004: Link. The date shown is a Sunday. THR doesn't run on Sundays. Could also be a purchased ad thing; THR sells "cover layouts" to sponsors.

* Since Mr. Medawar and Steeple Entertainment are now under fed investigation, www.dhstheseries.tv may be yanked. If so, no worries: mirrors exist. (Thanks, PJ, Warren Ellis, and Colin Berry)

Previously on Boing Boing:

Hollywood producer bilked $5.5m for TV show claimed "backed by Bush"

UPDATE: My friend and ex-colleague Ben Fritz covered this for Variety, and unearths reports that Medawar pitched "DHS" to investors as "promoting Christian values."

Here is a reg-free Link for "Producer arrested over fake show: 'DHS' creator meets FBI, IRS." Ben adds,

"I think the Washington Post article is extremely skeptical. But as I noted in my Variety piece, there's another media outlet that did get totally suckered: NPR's On The Media (ironically). Here's a link to the transcript: Link."

Snip from that "On The Media" transcript:

BROOKE GLADSTONE: To what extent is the White House and the Department of Homeland Security involved in the program?

JOSEPH MEDAWAR: We try to give on a every two week basis a complete package of what we're filming and what the story's about to the proper authorities that we are working with here in California at the governor's office, and they pass it on. And it continues to the right channels, and the person with us is Congressman Rohrbacher from our district.

ALISON HERUTH-WATERBURY: Rohrbacher is the one who has had contact with, a complete conversation with the president, and we know that he knows about it; we, we told him ourselves personally.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: The president.

ALISON HERUTH-WATERBURY: Yeah, we met with him for a photo op- and we briefly ran it by him with the little time that we had.

JOSEPH MEDAWAR:Before we saw the president, we had a very nice conversation with Karl Rove on where we are and how far we're going with it. When Mr. Tom Ridge came to Los Angeles to inspire the entertainment division of doing shows about the department, the head of our production had met with him; there was tremendous amount of enthusiasm and excitement, and I, I — if I may add something, it was very funny. Our head of production turned to Mr. Ridge and said "Who would you like to see play your part? And Mr. Ridge kind of giggled, and he says 'Hold off two years. Maybe I'll come back and play it myself.'"

BROOKE GLADSTONE:So Tom Ridge himself went to Los Angeles to try and get the entertainment industry interested in producing programs that would bring the message of homeland security and the war on terror to the people.

JOSEPH MEDAWAR: Well, absolutely. They're assembling an office in Los Angeles for producers, writers, directors to be able to contact for authenticity and information — to help filmmakers deliver a right message.