The music industry sometimes uses payola to achieve its goals, and the movie industry apparently uses ... fake pearl earrings and tequila. The screenwriter and director of the hit film Zero Dark Thirty are accused of bribing CIA officials to receive sensitive information, according to CIA documents obtained by Vice. The Inspector General's office found that the film—which depicts the search for Osama bin Laden and the Navy SEAL raid that killed him—was at least partially padded with information obtained under dubious means. Screenwriter Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow—who did not have security clearances, according to Vanity Fair—allegedly used gifts and promises of premiere tickets to get inside information from the government officers.
A female officer upon whom Jessica Chastain's character was based received an eight-hour shopping trip, according to the report, and other CIA officers allegedly received dinners at expensive restaurants and room service at fancy hotels. The Hollywood big shots are also accused of overstating the value of some of the bribes, with an alleged "several hundred dollar" bottle of tequila actually being worth less than $200. "Black Tahitian pearl earrings," meanwhile, were actually fake pearls painted black and mounted to cheap metal posts. In the end, neither the filmmakers nor the CIA officers were punished for the suspect activities, and Zero Dark Thirty grossed more than $132 million.