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But each show also goes in, at least figuratively, with a military escort. The producers are "casting" their shows and say they have final cut, though they will screen episodes for the military to ensure they don't give away secrets. But Washington can pull the plug anytime. And however well done the series are, they could become, for lack of comparable journalistic access, the most vivid, complete and lasting images of the conflict for many Americans while, say, misdirected military strikes vanish into the fog of war.
Of course, this assumes people watch (Diaries started taping in January; Profiles hasn't begun yet). If the war flares up, the cameras may not get access to the front. But Jonathan Littman, president of Bruckheimer's TV-production company, says it doesn't matter: "Just because [soldiers] aren't firing guns doesn't mean what they're doing isn't interesting." With luck, there will not be hostile fire in the troops' future. But there will definitely be shooting.
--With reporting by Jess Cagle/Los Angeles