PBS will soon premiere a new documentary entitled The Press Secretary
, (check local listings) which was written and directed by Ted Bogosian
and for which Barry Levinson and I served as executive producers. The
Press Secretary is a first-time look inside the media encampment
that surrounds the Oval Office. I say "first-time look" because Ted got
unprecedented access to the private, usually off-camera meetings of President
Bill Clinton, Press Secretary Joe Lockhart and other staff members during
the waning days of that Administration. What you will see is the sometimes
delicate, sometimes brutal dance that goes on every single day between the
President's men and the press corps. It makes an episode of The West Wing
Also, Ted's use of archival
footage -- especially black and white film featuring John F. Kennedy,
talking to a handful of reporters -- is a stark contrast to Clinton, shot
on HD, mobbed by the international press.
(AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Ted looks at an image of Clinton on a monitor
during the edit
Recently, a panel discussion
about the film was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
featuring John Roberts of CBS, Susan Page of USA Today, Jim Angle of Fox
Cable News, Mister Lockhart and Ted. During the lively and honest debate,
I was once again struck by how bizarre the people who call D.C. home are.
Now, I know it's odd for
a guy in show business to call any other profession "bizarre", but whereas
actors, directors and (God help us!) even writers have egos, we are,
at least out in the world, examining and reflecting on various aspects
of American life.
In Washington, they (and
I use "they" to refer to both the politicians and the press) are much
more insular - As if, in their minds, the entire world only exists in
the 44,160 acres that make up the District of Columbia. They care more
about what goes on on Pennsylvania Avenue than in the entire state of Pennsylvania.
They seem very intent on playing the game of not letting each other know
what they know. Information as power.
Still, I found that all
the panelists (and the people in the documentary) do truly believe that they
have the country's best interests at heart.
How Ted was able to get
these Beltway insiders to open up so freely is astonishing. But then again,
he did the same thing to us on Homicide.
You may recall that Ted
wrote, produced and directed Anatomy of a Homicide: Life on the Street
, which was broadcast on PBS in November, 1998. A look backstage at the
filming of a Homicide episode, Anatomy was nominated for two Emmy Awards.
Ted recently served as executive
producer for the PBS broadcast specials Lost Treasure of Christianity
, Running Mate, and War in the Wind. He was series
producer of the 6-hour PBS series Space Age, a co-production of
WQED-Pittsburgh and NHK/Japan in association with the National Academy
In 1990, Ted created, wrote
and produced the pilot for Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
From 1978-85, he was a film producer for WGBH's award-winning Nova
science series. He has also reported for Good Morning America and The McNeil-Lehrer
Ted's programs have won
several important national and international awards, including national and
local Emmys, a Writers' Guild of America Award, a Chicago Film Festival Gold
Plaque, as well as the recent DoubleTake Roland House High Definition Prize
for The Press Secretary.
I hope you'll try to catch
this illuminating fifty-eight minute documentary. I'm very proud to have
my name associated with the project.
Tom Fontana's Diary
10 September 2001
These are links to articles with more information about Ted and
FESTIVALS: Doubletake Boosts Attendance and Spirits
Floridian: Films in search of screens
Clinton reporting was daily ‘battle’
No free lunches and no one-hour solutions