Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and his wife, Janet Langhart Cohen, will host a dinner in Los Angeles, Thurs., Nov. 30, to honor Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, for his efforts to encourage positive portrayal of the US military through film and television. Valenti is a highly decorated World War II Army Air Corps pilot who flew more than 50 combat missions over Italy.
Secretary Cohen will present Valenti with the first "Citizen Patriot" award, which is being established to recognize individuals, groups and organizations for outstanding efforts on behalf of America's men and women in uniform. This includes efforts to identify and bring to public attention the contributions of American troops at home and abroad.
The United Service Organizations (USO) will participate in the event with a program featuring music performed by military groups representing all five Services and the National Guard and Reserve. Retired Army Gen. John Tilelli, president and chief executive officer of the World USO and former commander of U.S. forces in Korea, and Mrs. Cohen also will present the "Spirit of Hope" award to namesake and USO icon, Bob Hope. Hope's son, Tony, is expected to accept the award on behalf of his father.
Johnny Grant, USO board member, ceremonial "Mayor of Hollywood" and participant in more than 50 overseas USO shows spanning half a century, will serve as honorary chair of a host committee of entertainment community leaders, many of whom have incorporated military themes into award-winning films.
The committee includes Paul Bloch, Jerry Bruckheimer, Leonard Goldberg, Ward Grant, Merv Griffin, Peter Guber, Quincy Jones, Sherry Lansing, Mike Medavoy, Steven Spielberg, Jerry Weintraub and Jim Wiatt.
This recognition is part of the Cohens' ongoing efforts to reconnect America's military and key segments of American society, in order to bring to public attention the multifaceted roles of America's men and women in uniform. The Cohens' reconnect effort has included groups ranging from state legislators in Illinois to high-tech workers in Washington State.
A special effort for this event has been made to invite emerging writers, producers, directors and other entertainment industry professionals who will be responsible for the development and production of film and television projects for years to come.
The program is open to the media. For more information, call: in Washington, Sue Walitsky (703) 695-9538, Capt. Beth Miller (703) 692-9703; in Los Angeles, Lt. Col. Bob Potter, (310) 363-5970 or Mike Teilmann (818) 780-5099.