Hollywood, Media Companies Beef Up Security After Bomb Scares

“It’s been a hell of a week,” CNN executive tells TheWrap

Last Updated: October 26, 2018 @ 7:20 PM

Companies in Hollywood and the media world remained on high alert Friday after the arrest of a man suspected of sending more than a dozen explosive devices to prominent organizations and individuals critical of President Trump.

CNN, which was the target of two separate bomb scares this week, has “beefed up” security dramatically, a network executive told TheWrap Friday. The executive spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

“It’s been a hell of a week,” the insider said. “I cried myself to sleep Wednesday night realizing what we had survived after having run out of the [building], then having to cover it.”

A dozen packages containing pipe bombs were sent to Democratic politicians and prominent Trump critics over the past week. On Friday, authorities arrested 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc in connection with those incidents. Sayoc has a history of arrests, including a 2002 arrest for making a bomb threat.

The CNN executive would not comment further on the newly implemented safety measures, but said that “security chiefs of the media companies all talk to each other because it is a shared threat we all face.”

The Time Warner Center was evacuated Wednesday as a result of a suspicious package, addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, who actually works for NBC, arrived in the mailroom.

CNN had its second scare on Friday when another package, addressed to CNN contributor James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, was flagged at a nearby post office.

“Security remains our number one priority,” CNN boss Jeff Zucker wrote in a Friday internal memo, which was obtained by TheWrap. “I have complete confidence in our experts that make up to the moment decisions about security in all of our locations, and I have been in constant contact with them. We are focused on every location, every minute of the day, seven days a week. And that will continue. Earlier today, we sent detailed information about where to call or email if you have any concerns – please use them.”

Another CNN insider from the network’s Los Angeles bureau told TheWrap Friday that all mail sent to CNN staffers has been diverted and is being screened at off-site facilities.

“Security has been hyper vigilant,” the insider said. “The L.A. bureau is not receiving any mail.”

The individual told TheWrap that the bureau also conducted a security sweep of the offices on Wednesday after the first bomb was found in the network’s New York headquarters in Manhattan.

And in Atlanta, the CNN Center installed metal detectors at the entrances, according to the network.

Many companies declined to comment, saying they do not disclose their security practices.

A New York Times spokesperson told TheWrap in a statement: “Ensuring the safety and security of our staff is of critical importance and we’ve taken steps to expand security measures given the current environment, but as a matter of policy, we don’t discuss those measures in more detail.”

In a note, obtained by TheWrap, the paper told company employees on Wednesday morning that: “As you may have read, suspicious packages have recently been mailed to high-profile individuals and to CNN. Our security team has been in touch with local authorities and with the security people dealing with these unfolding events.”

The memo went on to say that, “all incoming mail, including United States Postal Service, FedEx and UPS, in New York and in the Washington bureau, is sent through an X-ray machine before it is delivered. The mail delivery in New York today is complete and there were no suspicious packages detected.”

The Times is taking the “additional step” of also sending anything delivered directly to the lobby security desk to the X-ray machines before delivery, and “will continue to be hypervigilant in the days ahead,” according to the missive.

The paper’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan has also been protected with concrete blocks along the sidewalk that were installed by the NYPD recently.

New York City Police officers stand outside the office of the The New York Times, October 25, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Times, which had its own scare this week, told TheWrap in a statement that its “security and facilities teams are being extra careful with mail and packages, as well as with any visitors to the building.”

“On Wednesday, law enforcement and hazardous materials teams thoroughly screened a few pieces of mail and inspected our mail room facility. Both were cleared and no hazardous materials were found. We generally have security on site at the property and in the building 24 hours a day. We also have metal detectors at the building entrance, where all staff and visitors are required to check in. Mail and deliveries are screened and sorted in a separate facility,” the paper said.

Even Hollywood shindigs are taking extra precaution. Bomb-sniffing dogs were on scene for the Wednesday premiere of Amazon’s “Susipria,” starring Dakota Johnson. The afterparty, held at Chateau Marmont, had several checkpoints and an abundance of security guards on hand, according to reporters covering the event. Amazon did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment Friday.

The CNN executive told TheWrap he was “grateful to the police and security guards that protect us every day.”

“On my way in and out of the building this week, I smiled and expressed my thanks to our heroes who saved the day,” he said.