Skip to comments.Bush takes center stage in ‘DC 9/11’
Posted on 09/07/2003 9:38:49 AM PDT by StopDemocratsDotCom
Filmmaker Lionel Chetwynd is a supporter of President Bush, a self-described political conservative and a defender of the war on Iraq.
NONE OF THAT, he contends, disqualified him from making a film about the Bush administrations actions in the days immediately following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
And Chetwynd makes no apologies for writing and producing an admiring account of a confident, decisive leader in Showtimes DC 9/11: Time of Crisis, debuting 8 p.m. EDT Sunday. Yes, it is a flattering portrait of the president because he did become the instrument around which we rallied, he said. You could say that anybody in the office might have done that. Well never know, because he was the one in the office. I think the important thing is, is it a fair representation of those nine days? said Chetwynd, an Academy Award nominee (1974s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz) whose TV credits include Ruby Ridge: An American Tragedy. DC 9/11: Time of Crisis shows Bush mustering his inner resources to reassure an anguished nation while guiding his Cabinet in beginning to frame Americas political and military response. Timothy Bottoms (who essayed a comic portrayal of the president in the Comedy Central satire Thats My Bush!) plays a composed but tough-talking Bush. The cast includes Penny Johnson Jerald (24) as national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and George Takei (Star Trek) as Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. Some scenes echo accounts included in Bob Woodwards 2002 book Bush at War. The film depicts Bushs resolve to return to the White House despite warnings of a possible threat against it and his refusal to cede to his staff decisions on key passages of an Oval Office speech. Chetwynd, who wrote the script that was directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith, based the drama on interviews with top-ranking members of the administration as well as on books and news accounts. A Bush appointee to the Presidents Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Chetwynd was able to request and receive an interview with President Bush that went nearly an hour. Recalls Chetwynd: I said I was having trouble sorting out the president from the commander in chief from a guy called George W. Bush, a man with a wife and children and who comes with a full set of emotions. Understanding how Bush harnessed the emotions provoked by the Pentagon and World Trade Center attacks shaped the project, Chetwynd said. Theres no room for W today, Bush says to his wife, Laura (Mary Gordon Murray), in one scene. But the film, which blends drama with footage of events and TV news reports (often from Fox News Channel, which Chetwynd says offered the best deal), is not a psychodrama. Chetwynd cites as his inspiration Missiles of October, the 1974 TV movie that re-created the Kennedy White House during the Cuban missile crisis. He wanted DC 9/11: Time of Crisis to remain similarly focused on a narrow time frame, and not solely for creative reasons. In those nine days, we were wounded and from that sense of injury did come a national identity, which is rarely given to a fractious country like ours, Chetwynd said. One of the great aspects of America is the constant food fight that seems to be going on at the various tables in the cafeteria. But every once in a while, we come together and say, You know what, there are larger issues and there are greater obstacles that we have to face as a people. While Chetwynd asserts his personal politics should be a non-issue, thats not the case. During a question-and-answer session with the Television Critics Association in July, Chetwynd was asked to detail his campaign support for Bush (he contributed $1,000, he said). One reporter said a donation to Democratic candidate Al Gore would have been preferable because it would have shown less potential bias. I mean, cmon! Chetwynd responded to the group. Am I supposed to abdicate? Does that mean, then, I cannot engage in political subject matter because I have expressed a preference in a political election? Advertisement
Looking back on the day, Chetwynd noted that a subsequent session on HBOs new Washington-based drama K Street didnt include any queries for series producer George Clooney about his politics. A lot of people feel I shouldnt have a seat at this table where popular culture is created, Chetwynd said. He refuses to accept criticism of the film as Bush campaign propaganda. He does not deny it is, as one observer said, a shot across the bow of Democrats seeking to replace Bush. That characterization initially bothered him, but no longer. Let him (Bush) and his administrations handling of those nine days be the standard to which the American people hold him and all of those Democratic candidates for president. Let this be the standard by which we judge our leaders because they rose to the occasion. I dont care what your politics are. They did the right thing.