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Screen Grabs, 10-17-07

Political Hollywood

They say that Washington is Hollywood for ugly people. That rang true last week, as Al Gore's Oscar-winning role of a lifetime as a climate change Cassandra carried the former veep all the way to a shared Nobel Peace Prize (with a stop at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival along the way), further gilding his once-tarnished legacy, even as a British court moved to ban An Inconvenient Truth from classrooms. Gore's Nobel inevitably prompted innumerable calls for him to run again, and an easy joke from humorist Andy Borowitz. But if Gore has even considered an '08 candidacy (he continues to insist he's not running), he'd probably think twice after seeing the latest cover of Radar magazine, which plays the Hollywood-for-ugly-people angle by spoofing Vanity Fair's infamous 2006 Hollywood cover, with Rudy Giuliani as Tom Ford, Hillary Clinton as Keira Knightly, and Barack Obama as Scarlett Johanssen. Tasteful it ain't, and it's already sparked some controversy, though Whoopi Goldberg is not the first person you might expect to get all righteous about poking a bit of well-deserved fun at the candidates.

Anyway, if Al Gore can have a movie, why not Howard Dean? Indeed, the blunt former Vermont governor soon shall, though it'll be a narrative feature rather than a doc. Titled Farragut North, it'll feature two of Hollywood's most reliable Democratic party stalwarts in Leonardo DiCaprio, as an idealistic Joe Trippi-esque campaign manager (to be depicted by Jake Gyllenhaal in an upcoming Broadway version of the story), and George Clooney as screamin' Dean. Meanwhile, Benicio del Toro, getting lots of press at the moment for his role in Things We Lost in the Fire, is sporting a big bushy beard these days, grown for his role in Steven Soderbergh's double-dip biopic about legendary guerilla Che Guevara (it'll consist of two films, aptly titled The Argentine and Guerilla), which is filming now.

This being Oscar season, and the time of year when weighty stories flood theaters, it figures that some allegorical politics would be unfolding on the screen, as in the current events action flick The Kingdom and the after-Iraq family drama In the Valley of Elah. There's more on the way, in the form of Robert Redford's big awards bid Lions for Lambs, penned by Kingdom screenwriter Matthew Carnahan. Starring Tom Cruise, a man who's right at home on a Vanity Fair cover, as a senator with Presidential ambitions, alongside Redford and Meryl Streep, it's a ripped-from-the-headlines, issues-based tale with interlocking narratives, straight from the Steven Gaghan (Traffic, Syriana) school of screenwriting. Other meaty soon-to-be-released message movies starring people who are much more attractive than anyone you'd find on Capitol Hill: Rendition (Reese Witherspoon and Gyllenhaal, about CIA interrogations) is out Friday, followed in November by Brian DePalma's Redacted (Iraq and the media) and in December by Grace Is Gone (John Cusack and Marisa Tomei, another after-Iraq family drama).

But not all of the entertainment world's politicking was so deadly serious. Unlike Gore, mock talk show host Stephen Colbert finally answered his ardent supporters' prayers by announcing his intention to get into the 2008 race—perhaps as a Republican, or as a Democrat, or maybe both, so that, as he said, "I can lose twice." So where are the campaign funds coming from? "I'd really like to get some corporate sponsorship," Colbert explained. "Some sort of salty snack." Perhaps he should speak with Radar about a campaign contribution.

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