The Hollywood Reporter this week published a fascinating essay on the real-life backstory behindArgo, the upcoming film from Ben Affleck. Slated to hit theaters October 12th,Argorecounts the story of a 1979 CIA mission to free six Americans trapped in Iran. The sextet had been among the dozens of Americans taken hostage by theAyatollah Khomeini, but managed to escape and find refuge at the homes of top Canadian officials. Faced with the task of bringing them home safely, CIA official Tony Mendez (played by Affleck) decided to have them pose as members of a Canadian film crew.
To do this, of course, Mendez needed to create a fake film for the "crew" to work on, so he and other Hollywood insiders launched a promotional campaign for a movie called Argo. Mendez and his team were remarkably diligent about selling their non-existent film, going so far as to take out an trade ad in a 1980 issue ofThe Hollywood Reporter:
As the 2012Argoreveals, that trade ad for the 1980Argowas part of an elaborate -- and daring -- secret CIA mission to rescue six U.S. State Department officials trapped in Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis. Hollywood,The Hollywood Reporterincluded, merely played along with the ruse unwittingly. In fact, the backstory behind the fakeArgois even more byzantine than depicted in the realArgo. But it all boils down to one line that a movie producer played byAlan Arkindelivers in the new film: "If you want to sell a lie, you get the press to sell it for you."
Read more about the film and its historyhere.