Entries in Documentary (13)


Jim McGreevey's Political Journey Chronicled in HBO's "Fall to Grace"

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- When Jim McGreevey announced his “truth” on live television, it shocked the political world.  On August 12, 2004 the former New Jersey governor revealed he was a “gay American.”

In an interview for ABC’s This Week Sunday, the former New Jersey governor reflected, “The blessing of 2004, my resignation, is that I’ve had the opportunity to reassess my values, what was at my core, and a difference to me, if you could do anything at this point in life, think about pursuing what your passion would be.”

Alexandra Pelosi’s new HBO film, Fall to Grace, follows McGreevey pursuing his new-found passion — serving as a spiritual advisor for incarcerated women.

“What is so special about Alexandra was the trust that she incurred with the women,” McGreevy said. “They talked about some of the most difficult aspects of their lives and she gives meaning and purpose to these women. If any good comes out of this… hopefully it’s that as we drive by those high concrete walls with barbed wire we understand that there are human beings behind those walls.”

Pelosi, whose previous films include HBO’s Citizen U.S.A.: A 50 State Road Trip, Homeless: The Motel Kids of Orange County, and Journeys with George said, “We’re trying to put the idea out there that everyone deserves a second act, everyone deserves redemption. We’ve all made mistakes that we’re not proud of and all think that in this time of the year it’s a good time to talk about getting forgiveness for our sins.”

McGreevey agrees that his journey after resigning from office in 2004 has been one of redemption.

“It’s redemptive… you spend time with people who are broken and you see the sense of goodness within them,” McGreevey said. “And I also achieved a parallel blessing — they’re working with me to move to a more, what I would perceive, godly place.”

An official documentary selection at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Fall to Grace, exploring Jim McGreevey’s road from political scandal to redemption, premieres this Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 8 p.m. on HBO.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Dick Cheney Unconcerned with Critics in New Documentary

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In The World According to Dick Cheney, a new documentary by R.J. Cutler, former Vice President Dick Cheney is unrepentant, and says that he doesn’t care about what critics think of him.

The documentary, which premiers March 15 on Showtime, gives a rare and in-depth look at one of the most influential politicians in recent years.

“I don’t lay awake at night thinking ‘gee, what are they going to say about me now?’” Cheney remarks in the upcoming film.

“He does say a lot that he’s not interested in what people think about him, but it’s hard to imagine that he’s not invested in what his legacy is,” Cutler said in an interview with ABC’s This Week.  “He is a significant figure of American history.”

“He does not feel there is room for compromise,” Cutler said. “I think it raises the question, when total conviction serves a democracy and when it can be problematic for democracy.”

Though the planning stages of the documentary and interviews were slow, Cutler got perhaps unprecedented access to the vice president and his way of thinking over the course of several interviews. Cutler even accompanied him on a fishing trip.

Culter told This Week that he had to go into the interviews with a totally open mind.

“You need to enter most of all with curiosity,” Cutler said. “Not with expectations, not with preconceived notions, but with questions.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Martin Scorsese to Produce Bill Clinton Documentary

Frank Polich/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- HBO and director Martin Scorsese are planning to produce a documentary centered on former president Bill Clinton.

The 42nd president of the United States is fully cooperating with the doc that will examine how Clinton spent his days in office, along with what he has done since leaving the his post as commander-in-chief.

"I am pleased that legendary director Martin Scorsese and HBO have agreed to do this film," Clinton said in a statement.  “I look forward to sharing my perspective on my years as president, and my work in the years since, with HBO's audience.”

Scorsese echoed Clinton's excitement, saying, “A towering figure who remains a major voice in world issues, President Clinton continues to shape the political dialogue both here and around the world.  Through intimate conversations, I hope to provide greater insight into this transcendent figure.”

There's no word on when the documentary will air on HBO.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Conservatives Sound Off for Anti-Obama Documentary

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The anti-Obama documentary 2016: Obama’s America began showing in more than 1,000 theaters nationwide on Friday, more than any political documentary in the past eight years, since Michael Moore’s 2004 film Sicko was released in 1,117 theaters.

2016, which argues that President Obama’s father’s Kenyan roots have led the president to take an anti-American world view, has grossed more than $2.6 million since it was first released in Houston last month. The film is now the eleventh highest-grossing political documentary in history, according to Box Office Mojo, which tracks movie ticket sales.

“Demand has driven the expansion a ‘little’ fast[er] than I had planned but the early morning numbers from theaters is telling me 2016 is going to have a nice weekend at the box-office,” Randy Slaughter, a spokesman for the film’s distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures, said in an email.

While reviews of the film have been less than glowing -- Variety’s Joe Leydon dubbed it a “a cavalcade of conspiracy theories, psycho-politico conjectures and incendiary labeling” -- several big-name conservatives have endorsed the highly-critical look at Obama’s past.

On Friday, Donald Trump tweeted about the movie, based on conservative author Dinesh D’Souza’s book The Roots of Obama’s Rage, predicting it “will be highest grossing documentary in 2012!!”

Former GOP presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry tweeted his endorsement of the film when it opened in his state on July 13.

“Strong opening day for Obama’s America,” Perry tweeted. “This summer’s must see movie!!”

Rachel Rosen, the director of programming at the San Francisco Film Society, said the film has probably succeeded because of its ability to “catch the zeitgeist of what people are thinking about.”

In this case that zeitgeist is the conservative skepticism about President Obama’s multinational childhood. Obama was born in Hawaii to a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya and grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia.

“This man’s background deeply illuminates his policy priorities,” D’Souza, who co-directs and stars in the film, told ABC News after its release in July. “He subscribes to an ideology that sees America very differently.”

Frederic Lahey, director of the Colorado Film School, said the film has likely seen such popularity because it is “emotionally evocative” and ends with a “call to action.” Lahey said documentaries are becoming more popular because people are “encountering lots of frustration in their lives” and “are looking for solutions and fresh perspective.”

“Too often the entertainment films are like eating a candy; once it’s gone it’s gone and unless it was tremendously well made the taste can be a little too sugary,” Lahey said. “Sometimes people are looking for a meal, something with a little more protein and content.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Anti-Obama Documentary a Box Office Hit

Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A documentary highly critical of President Obama’s past became the second highest-grossing documentary of the year last weekend, grossing $1.2 million last weekend.

2016: Obama’s America, based on conservative author Dines D’Souza’s book The Roots of Obama’s Rage, expanded to 169 theaters nationwide on Friday, following the success of its limited release to 61 theaters over the past month, the Hollywood Reporter first reported.

Overall the documentary has grossed slightly more than $2 million since it opened at one theater in Houston on July 13, making it the 12th highest-grossing political documentary in history.

The film, D’Souza said, is “a vista” of Obama’s life, following his childhood from Hawaii to Indonesia to Kenya, his father’s birthplace, to Chicago. D’Souza claims that his documentary looks at “just how different” Obama is because of his multicultural upbringing, which the author claims led Obama to subscribe “to an ideology that sees America very differently.”

“Obama has an agenda that is different than what many and maybe a majority of Americans want,” D’Souza told ABC News after his film’s premiere in Texas last month.

The author, who stars in the documentary, said the president wants “a fairly dramatic expansion of state control over a whole range of industries” and a “rapid and startling weakening of America’s position particularly in the Middle East.” He also wants “to shrink America’s footprint in the world because he thinks we’ve been stepping on the world.”

All of these priorities, D’Souza claims, stem from his father’s Kenyan roots and Obama’s “very different upbringing.”

“I expect them to walk out of the theater saying it is a little hard to believe we have had for four years a man in the White House that we never fully knew,” D’Souza said of the reaction he expects people to have to his movie. “I think it’s fair to say across the spectrum that’s what people will say.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


George H. W. Bush on the Waltz That Changed His Life

Stefan Glidden/HBO(NEW YORK) -- Sixty-seven years of marriage all began with a waltz.  That’s what former president George H. W. Bush said in a new HBO documentary simply titled 41 about his own life, in his own words.

But it turns out when the 41st president “somehow” got up the nerve to ask then Barbara Pierce to dance at a holiday party, he didn’t know how to waltz. So they talked instead and he asked her out the next day.

It was stories like this that attracted longtime friend Jerry Weintraub to the project.  He is the executive producer of the film, which will be released to coincide with Bush’s 88th birthday next week.

“It shows him as a man.  It’s not just a documentary about a president.  It’s not him making big speeches and out there rallying the troops and so on and so forth.  It’s about his life,” Weintraub told ABC's Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos.

The two men have been friends for close to 50 years and Weintraub has a house near Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine.

“I’ve known his family for a very long time.  It comes from them.  They would never let him be a bragger.  And they’d never let him go out and say ‘Listen, I’m the greatest,’” Weintraub said.  “He worked his way up and I think he was the most prepared man that we ever had in our country to become president of the United States because he worked at underling jobs.”

Those jobs included ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee and director of the CIA.

Bush never wrote an autobiography about his time as president, so this documentary is in some way his verbal memoir.  And he opens up about personal moments, such as when his son was sworn in as president.

“Very emotional for me.  Very proud father.  First time it’s happened, I guess, in the history of our country except for the Adams’.  But it was mind boggling, it was enormous and a source of great pride for the family,” Bush says in the film.

Both father and son were on hand at the unveiling of former president George W. Bush’s portrait at the White House last week.  The elder Bush was in a wheelchair and Weintraub described his health as “not doing great” but “not terrible” either.

“He’s a very active guy.  When you get Parkinson’s and all of a sudden you’re riding around in a wheelchair and this and that, he can’t do things himself,” Weintraub said.

“It’s tough, but he can handle it because he’s had so much good in his life.  And he has his family around him and everything about him is family,” he added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Introduces Bullying Documentary on Cartoon Network

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama opened up a 30-minute documentary on childhood bullying for Cartoon Network Sunday evening, continuing awareness initiatives he set into motion last year.

The minute-long introduction, which was pre-taped, featured the president speaking directly to the camera for the documentary titled To SPEAK UP Against Bullying.

“Bullying is not a rite of passage or harmless part of growing up,” Obama said.  “It’s wrong.  Its destructive and we can all prevent it.”

The president said that for him the issue is personal.

“I care about this issue deeply, not just as the president, but as a dad,” he said referring to his two daughters, Sasha and Malia.

Obama mentioned last year’s White House summit on bullying prevention in his opening remarks, adding that partnerships have been made “with schools and parents to raise awareness.”

According to the White House, an estimated 13 million students are bullied each year.

As he closed his remarks, Obama left viewers with a call to action to do more.

“Everyone has to take action against bullying,” he said.  “Everyone has an obligation to make our schools and our communities safer for all our kids.”

The commercial-free documentary, which extends the network’s social initiative Stop Bullying: Speak Up, aired on Cartoon Network across the country on Sunday at 5:30 p.m.

It featured a number of kids, mostly between the ages of 8 and 13, as well as a number of famous athletes, including tennis star Venus Williams, soccer goalie Hope Solo, extreme bike trickster Matt Wilhelm and Joey Logano, the youngest NASCAR champ.

The children spoke about their own bullying experiences and how to stand up to bullies.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bill Clinton Struggled to Deal With Lewinsky Affair, Film Says

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Bill Clinton apparently struggled with whether to talk publicly about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, as his aides were surprised, even dismayed, about his relationship with the 23-year-old.

A new documentary focusing on Clinton’s life and presidency reveals that he contacted pollster Dick Morris to gauge whether he should come out with the truth when news of the affair broke.

“He said, ‘Ever since I got here to the White House I’ve had to shut my body down sexually, I mean, but I screwed up with this girl. I didn’t do what they said I did, but I may have done so much that I can’t prove my innocence,’” Morris recalls in the film Clinton, which was written and directed by Barak Goodman.

“And I said to him, ‘The problem that presidents have is not the sin, it’s the cover-up and you should explore just telling the American people the truth.’ He said, ‘Really, do you think I could do that?’ And I said, ‘Let me test it, let me run a poll.’ So I took a poll and I tested popular attitudes on that and I called him back and I said, ‘They will forgive the adultery, but they won’t easily forgive that you lied,’” Morris says in the documentary to air on PBS next week.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Meanwhile, several of Clinton’s aides were convinced he was set up.

“He’s got all these enemies who are out to get him,” Clinton’s labor secretary, Robert Reich, said in the film. “He wouldn’t be so stupid as to jeopardize his entire presidency. For what? No, that was not the Bill Clinton I knew.”

Clinton first denied the affair that broke out in the news media in 1998, famously saying he “did not have sexual relations with that woman.” He later admitted to oral sex with the young intern and said his relationship with Lewinsky was wrong and inappropriate.

“I am profoundly sorry for all I have done wrong in words and in deeds,” he said Dec. 11, 1998. “I never should have misled the country, the Congress, my friends or my family. Quite simply, I gave in to my shame.”

Although his subsequent impeachment made him only the second U.S. president to be impeached, Clinton’s aides say that in a way, the former president himself set up barriers that he could then leap across and he was always confident he could find his way back.

“How many second chances does any one person deserve?” his former press secretary, Dee Dee Myers, said in the film. “Clinton’s view is as many second chances as a person is willing to try to take. As many times as you fail, don’t you deserve the chance to redeem yourself? Isn’t history loaded with people who have fallen and gotten up, fallen and gotten up and done great things?”

Clinton declined to comment on the film.

The documentary also details the challenges Hillary Clinton faced as first lady. Clinton was, behind the scenes, a powerful force in the White House but aides said her strengths often turned into his weaknesses.

“Voters thought that it was a zero-sum game, that for Hillary to be strong, Bill would have to be weak, and as a result the perception of Hillary’s strength became a perception of Bill’s weakness,” Morris said.

Hillary Clinton was blamed by many for a weak turnout in the 1994 election and for the failure of the administration’s health care reform plan in 1993 that failed to gain momentum.

“She was outspoken, she was smart, she was hard driving, and some people resented her,” Clinton Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes said in the film. “Remember during the campaign, it was two for the price of one, well people aren’t electing two for the price of one. They’re electing the president.”

The documentary airs on PBS Feb. 20-21, as part of  its American Experience series.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Filmmaker Turns Lens on Partisanship in Washington

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Bill Malone interviewed former senator Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., for his documentary ‘Patriocracy.’ The veteran politician gave a candid summary of the partisan politics plaguing Washington of late.

“Just holler, ‘Bull sh*t!'” said Simpson, craning his head upwards to mimic shouting the expletive to the rooftops. “And let it ring through the land. That may be our credo, we may make it if we can do that, because everybody of any sense or status in life knows what bull sh*t is.”

Partisanship gridlock is the worst it has ever been, according to several characters that appear in Malone’s new film.

“I don’t think we look at government the right way, and a lot of it is the way we look at it,” Malone told ABC’s Top Line Friday. “Instead of looking at the differences we need to look at the similarities.”

“If you look at American history, much of American history, and the reason why American democracy has survived as long as it has is because of a spirit of compromise and collaboration,” he continued.

Yet as evidenced by the Republican presidential race, voters tend to reward extreme, partisan views, fueling politicians with a strong incentive to veer sharply to the left or right. Malone blames, in part, apathetic American voters for the extreme politics.

“There is a problem with getting smart thinking, well-minded people involved in politics,” said Malone. But he argues that “if people really knew what was at stake, and how these decisions in Washington were affecting their everyday lives, they would make the extra effort, and I think the time has come for Americans to really step up.”

Historically, American politics has had its fair share of boiling tempers. This is a country where founding fathers shot at each other in a dual, and people were beaten in the House of Representatives, after all. But Malone says that is an unfair comparison.

“Back in the early days of Congress when people were getting hit with canes or people brought -- Congressmen, Senators -- brought hunting dogs onto the Senate floor, they didn’t have the 24/7 news cycle that constantly fed viewers and voters what they wanted to hear, and reinforced in many cases their stereotypes, their fears and misinformation,” said Malone.

The filmmaker said several members of Congress told him they were frustrated that they can’t even walk from the House or Senate floor to their office buildings without seeing all the networks commenting on a bill they just voted on.

“So it’s hard for them to get perspective and I think that’s what we all need, we all need a little perspective.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin Documentary Debuts amidst Speculation-Fueled Frenzy

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(PELLA, Iowa) -- The new documentary about Sarah Palin has yet to debut, and already it's caused more of a stir than most Hollywood summer blockbusters.

Ahead of Tuesday's premiere of The Undefeated, reports swirled that the former Alaska governor and her aides were inviting prominent Republicans in the key Hawkeye State to meet with Palin after the screening at the Pella Opera House.  Those reports, originally circulated by the blog Politico, were shot down late Monday by Republican operatives and Palin's political action committee.

A top Republican operative in Iowa told ABC News that "not only have I not heard from Gov. Palin regarding meetings, I am unaware of anyone who has been contacted regarding private meetings."

In an interview, former Iowa GOP executive director and prominent conservative Chuck Laudner told Politico that a "Palin backer" contacted him about attending a mingling session after the film.  Palin is slated to attend a cookout near the Pella Opera House after Tuesday evening's screening.

Politico posted the story under the headline "Sarah Palin team reaching out to Iowa activists for meetings."

In an interview with ABC News on Monday afternoon, Laudner called the headline "a lie" adding, "I never indicated that."

"I was on a general list for the gathering in the park," he said.  "I'm not going now, after all this."

Several other prominent GOP activists also told Real Clear Politics that they had not been contacted regarding potential sit-downs with Palin while she is visiting the important early nominating state.

A statement released by SarahPAC late Monday dismissed the Republican rendezvous reports, saying Palin "looks forward to spending time tomorrow with the people of Pella, Iowa and enjoying the premiere of Stephen K. Bannon's new film, The Undefeated."

A cinematic love letter of sorts, The Undefeated chronicles Palin's life and rise through government, portraying her as a crusader against politics-as-usual, a true "maverick" as she and Sen. John McCain branded themselves in the 2008 election.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio