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Jewish World Review Nov. 19, 2001 / 1 Kislev, 5762

Diana West

Diana West
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Hollywood's other battle -- DURING World War II, Hollywood heavyweights went to war. They fought it, like dreamboats Clark Gable, Robert Montgomery and Robert Taylor; they made training films, like our near-sighted future president Ronald Reagan; and they sold war bonds, like luminous Carole Lombard, who died at age 34 in a plane crash while selling bonds on tour.

Or they filmed it. Director George Stevens shot the liberation of Dachau's prisoners and the capture of Hitler's Berchtesgaden aerie. Director William Wyler made the documentary "Memphis Belle," the last mission of a Flying Fortress over Germany. Writer-director John Huston was awarded the Legion of Merit for his courageous work filming such documentaries as "The Battle of San Pietro" under battle conditions in both the Pacific and European theaters.

As war comes to America, contemporary Hollywood is still trying to find its mission. This past weekend, Washington offered a few simple suggestions -- seven, to be precise -- the White House would like to see incorporated into movies or public service announcements by the motion picture industry. These include messages of support for national service and our troops, and the notion that we're fighting terrorism, and not Islam, as White House senior advisor Karl Rove told a meeting of the moguls including Paramount's Sherry Lansing, Viacom's Sumner Redstone, CBS's Leslie Moonves, and Dreamworks' Jeffrey Katzenberg. Presumably, Dreamworks' Steven Spielberg, a big pal of Bill Clinton's who did not attend, had more pressing plans.

Also absent were a couple of Hollywood heavies -- er, heavyweights -- once quite familiar in Washington: television producer Harry Thomason and his producer-wife Linda Bloodworth-Thomason ("Evening Shade" and "Designing Women"). Not that the Thomasons needed a White House pep talk to get themselves going on the war effort. Indeed, you might say they have already blazed the way. With emotions running red, white and blue, with the nation struggling to make sense of the tumultuous press of news, the Thomasons have already begun to do their bit to focus Americans on what really matters most.

And what's that you wonder? It's the Clintons (but I promise I won't say "stupid").

Yankee doodle do or die, the Thomasons recently inked a deal, as they say in the Hollywood press, to make a documentary for theatrical release about the scandal-riddled, scandal-addled, scandal-paralyzed presidency of George W. Bush's predecessor.

At first, the prospect of a documentary on the life and times of Bill and Hillary Clinton sounds like a joke. For one thing, as the nation teeters on terror alert, "legacy"-building is just not the priority it once was at 1700 Pennsylvania Ave., back when the Thomasons had the run of the place. But some things, as they say, never change. The nation may be girding itself for an entirely new kind of war, but the Clintonistas are still fighting the old one -- over Bill Clinton. "This is not a film about Republicans and Democrats," Mr. Thomason recently told the Hollywood Reporter. "Rather, it's an insightful story that looks at the fringe elements in our society and their effect on the modern political process." (FYI: He doesn't mean militant Islamists.)

Naturally, the Thomasons won't be basing their film on anything "fringy," having passed on the works of such vast-right-wing-conspirators as Michael Isikoff of Newsweek ("Uncovering Clinton" (Three Rivers Press, 2000)), David Schippers, former Democratic prosecutor and Chief Investigative Counsel of the House Judiciary Committee ("Sell-Out" (Regnery Publishing, 2000)), Richard Posner, Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ("An Affair of State" (Harvard University Press, 2000)), as well as the work of Susan Schmidt of The Washington Post and Michael Weisskopf of Time magazine ("Truth at Any Cost" (HarperCollins, 2000)). They won't be using "The Starr Report," either.

Instead, the Thomasons chose, in the words of the film's distributor, Regent Entertainment's Paul Colichman, "something really creative" -- Joe Conason and Gene Lyons' book "The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton"(St. Martin's Press, 2000) For anyone who has already hocked his Clintoniana to make room for more enduring works, this particular title was the fantasmagorical compilation of everything you ever wanted to forget about Bill and Hillary Clinton, from the Little Rock governor's mansion to the White House.

"Hunting" is supposed to begin shooting soon, although no word as yet on whether it will pause for Ramadan. Meanwhile, maybe we should salute the Thomasons after all. In time of war, there's nothing like a little comic relief.

JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


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11/07/01: Facing up to the FBI's past mistakes
11/02/01: A school that teaches patriots to shutup
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10/22/01: The fatuous fatwa
10/19/01: Left out
10/16/01: Whose definition of terrorism?
10/11/01: Post-stress disorder
10/08/01: How the West has won
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09/28/01: Drawing a line in stone
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09/14/01: When our dead will finally rest in hallowed ground
09/07/01: We want our #$%^&*() audience back!
08/24/01: The transformation from Green Mountain State to Green Activist State is all but complete
08/17/01: Enlightenment at Yale
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08/03/01: Opening the dormitory door: College romance in the New Century
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06/22/01: When PC parades are too 'mainstream'
06/22/01: When "viewpoint discrimination" in our schools was not nearly so gnarly a notion
06/15/01: Lieberman flaunts mantle of perpetual aggrievement
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05/29/01: Campus liberals should be more careful
05/18/01: 'Honest Bill' Clinton and other Ratheresian Logic
05/11/01: Dodging balls, Bugs, and 'brilliance'
05/04/01: Foot in mouth disease and little lost Tories
04/20/01:The last classic Clinton cover-up
04/20/01: D-Day, Schmee-Day
04/06/01: For heaven's sake, a little decency!
03/30/01: The sweet sound of slamming doors and clucking feminists
03/23/01: America's magazines and the 'ick-factor'
03/09/01: Felony neglect
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02/23/01: 'Ecumenical niceness' and other latter-day American gifts to the world
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02/12/01: If only ...

© 2001, Diana West