The Hollywood President, w/guest Leonard Pierce

It’s no surprise that the recent Oliver Stone film, W, has bombed at the box office — much like its ’90s pseudo-predecessor, Primary Colors. Regardless of how good the movie is (and W is mighty intriguing), the fact remains that the public has had a front-row seat to witness the debacle of the White House over the last eight years… so why would they want to relive the experience for an additional two hours?

In addition, why is it that our fictional Hollywood leaders, such as David Palmer of 24 and Jeb Bartlet of The West Wing, are often so much more appealing than their real-life counterparts? How has the public perception of the Commander-in-Chief been impacted by film and television throughout the years, and what have been some of the more notable attempts at depicting presidents throughout the years? We’ll look at everything from historical portrayals (John AdamsNixon) to dark comedies (Dr. Strangelove) and bizarre farces (Wild in the Streets, Gabriel Over the White House).

Returning as my guest is pop-culture critic and freelance writer Leonard Pierce — Leonard is a contributor to’s ScreenGrab and the Onion’s A/V club, and you can find out more information on Leonard’s projects and thoughts at his blog. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in November 2008.]

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Kevin Fullam is a writer and researcher, with extensive experience in fields ranging from sports analytics to politics and cinema.
In addition, he has hosted two long-running radio series on film and culture, and taught mass media at Loyola University.
Episodes of his two shows, Split Reel and Under Surveillance, are archived on the Radio page.