What has Hollywood gotten right about presidential politics?
For a long time, not anything. I remember the conversation that got me involved with West Wing. I met Aaron Sorkin when I was doing Bulworth [Screenplay by Warren Beatty and Jeremy Pikser]. We had lunch and I said, “Look, the most important thing to understand about politics and Hollywood is that unlike so many other things, Hollywood shows what it wishes it would be, not what it is.”
Hollywood makes great cop movies, for instance. They research the different sides. The grittiness, the accuracy, is so authentic. You know it when you see it. But with political movies and shows, it’s much more how they’d like it to look.
The second thing I told him was that the reason so many films fail about the president is that they’re made out to be cartoonish or, even worse, to be evil. Not to denigrate that because it can be part of the art, but I don’t think people really want to see that. The theory I had about politics is that people were already so negative of politics. When Hollywood showed even more negative views of politics, people didn’t go because why depress yourself even further?
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
For the Writers Guild of America, West, Denis Faye talks to former West Wing writer Patrick Caddell about how US film and TV have portrayed the country's politicians.