Film director Steven Spielberg has hired one of Israel's top public relations consultants, Eyal Arad, to head local publicity for his controversial drama Munich, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker's latest opus.
Arad confirmed that he had been hired by Spielberg but declined to comment further Sunday in a conversation with The Jerusalem Post.
The Israeli consultant joins a small but highly influential list of US policy and opinion makers brought in to assist the Spielberg project, which focuses on Israel's response to the killing of its athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
The chief public relations consultant for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima party, Arad takes his place among officials such as former US President Bill Clinton, who was shown a copy of the Munich script by former American Middle East peace negotiator Dennis Ross, a friend of Spielberg's.
Nominated for two Golden Globes and listed as one of the American Film Institute's top 10 films of 2005, Munich has generated controversy for its portrayal of its lead Israeli characters: a hit squad assembled to assassinate the terrorists and others implicated in the Olympic Village killings. Adapted for the screen by playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump), the film is based on Vengeance, an account of the secret Israeli operation considered by many to have been discredited since its 1984 release.
The film opens across the US on Friday and will premiere in Israel late next month.