For anyone immersed in this year’s presidential campaign (and who isn’t?), Lis Wiehl’s The Candidate is a feast to behold. Erica Sparks, the dynamic newswoman in Wiehl’s previous novel and series, The Newsmakers, returns to give us a “House of Cards.”
The Candidate asks, among other things: What are the similarities between the presidential campaign in The Candidate and a real campaign for the White House? And, how far would you go to get something you wanted?
Aside from Sparks, there is a fascinating cast of characters including two presidential candidates, Mike Ortiz and Lucy Winters. Ortiz is a dynamic war hero favored to win the White House. Lucy Winters, a senator from Minnesota, describes her mother as the most influential person in her life, the one who “held her family together” and the candidate who exudes middle-class, midwestern values. Think a Minnesota version of Kelly Ayotte.
Mike Ortiz, a senator from California, has standing by his side his glamorous, adoring wife, Celeste. Think Jackie Kennedy, but with sinister undertones. While Celeste appears sympathetic and supportive of a husband who spent nine months in a squalid Al-Qaeda prison, there is much more here than meets the eye.
If you thought House of Cards provided political intrigue and a lust for power, you haven’t seen anything yet. Lis Wiehl’s latest Newsmakers Novel, The Candidate, gives us a House of Cards, with gusto – and a Chinese angle to boot.
As Erica Sparks astutely notes, “Power is such an intriguing thing. I’m never sure if having it or getting it is what turns people into monsters.” Politicians take note. In the meantime, enjoy this latest thriller from Lis Wiehl.
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As we enter the final days of a presidential campaign that has been both historic and unusually ahem interesting we are more aware than ever of the vital need to engage in politics, (however distasteful it can sometimes be.) Here are some movies dedicated to examining how the sausage making of electing political leaders actually occurs.
The Best Man (1964) Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (Planet of the Apes, Patton) and written by Gore Vidal was based on his own play of the same title. Starring Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Edie Adams, Margaret Leighton and Lee Tracy this drama details the sordid maneuverings behind the nomination of a presidential candidate. Tracy was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in what was to be his final film.
The Candidate (1972) This satirical comedy drama was directed by Michael Ritchie (The Bad News Bears, Fletch) and written by former Eugene McCarthy speechwriter Jeremy Larner. Political specialist Marvin Lucas (Peter Boyle) needs a Democratic candidate to oppose a popular Republican incumbent (Don Porter). Since no serious candidate will enter such an unwinnable race Lucas seeks out Bob McKay (Robert Redford) the son of a former Democratic governor who wants to use the campaign solely as bully pulpit to spread his idealistic platform. Things don’t go as planned. It was widely acclaimed for Redford’s performance and Larner’s script, and the latter won an Oscar.
Bob Roberts (1992) This satirical mockumentary was written and directed by Tim Robbins who also starred in the title role as a conservative Republican folk singer who becomes the challenger against a Democratic incumbent for one of Pennsylvania’s Senate seats. Shot through the perspective of Terry Manchester (stage star Brian Murray) who’s doing a documentary on Roberts’ campaign while a young reporter Bugs Raplin (Giancarlo Esposito) attempts to expose Roberts as a fraud. It currently has a 100% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Wag the Dog (1997) This hysterical black comedy produced and directed by Barry Levinson kicks off with allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of the President and an adorable firefly girl…less than two weeks before the election. Trouble shooter Conrad Bean (Robert DeNiro) is brought in to save the situation and he concocts an elaborate scheme to distract the public by creating a fake war with Albania. To that end he recruits legendary Hollywood producer Stanley Motts (Dustin Hoffman) and then things get very, VERY complicated. Besides Hoffman and DeNino we also get Anne Heche, William H. Macy, Denis Leary, and Woody Harrelson all at the top of their game as well. Small wonder it has an 85% rating at Rotten Tomatoes as well as Oscar nominations for Dustin Hoffman for Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Primary Colors (1998) Based on the novel of the same name, directed by Mike Nichols (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Silkwood) and starring John Travolta as a charismatic Southern governor trying to win the Democratic Party nomination for President. (Three guesses who this is based on.) Besides Travolta we also get winning turns by Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, and Adrian Lester. Bates was nominated by the Academy for Best Supporting Actress and screenwriter Elaine May (Ishtar, The Birdcage) also received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
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