National drug czar Barry McCaffrey offered an olive branch Thursday to Hollywood, saying he would like to make the industry a stronger player in the nation's war on illicit drugs.
Although he said films and television send mixed messages, he avoided attacks on specific movies, programs or the people who produce them.
The retired Army general spent an hour with about 30 network and studio executives, producers and actors at a meeting sponsored by the Entertainment Industries Council. The council is a nonprofit organization that serves as a liaison between Hollywood and Washington on public health and social issues.
McCaffrey said the industry was not the problem when it came to America's drug woes. But, he said, Hollywood does have tremendous influence over young minds and its creators must be conscious of the messages they send.
He was particularly troubled by programs and films that make light of drug abuse. But when he was asked to cite examples, McCaffrey demurred.
Instead, he said "there's an awful lot of good work done," and cited the television series "ER," although he inadvertently referred to it as a film.
Brian Dyak, president of the council, lauded McCaffrey's remarks. "We had a major olive branch out there. So many times we've had the cheap shots. This was very refreshing."