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tv   The White House in Film TV  CSPAN  April 5, 2021 10:38pm-11:25pm EDT

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[applause] nancy bristo from the university talks about the correlation between earlier pandemic and today's global crisis. watch tuesday beginning at 8 pm eastern. enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span 3. >> filmmakers and former white
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house officials described their work on productions depicting the white house and the presidency. the discussion is hosted by the white house is a historical association was recorded at the john f. kennedy center for the performing arts in washington d.c.. good evening, i hope you've been enjoying tonight's program. it's fascinating and there is more to come. a year ago i was honored when ed ryan asked me to share the white house historical association board committee for this important four-day summit. i want to thank the members of our committee, martha, mike mockery, and and our historian adviser michael. for their yearlong commitment and innumerable contributions to the planning of the summit. with the terrific staff with a white house historical association and the vision and leadership, we've convened more than 100 presidential sites as well as the leading experts in
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the wide array of fields and interest and that the presidential site representatives told us that they wanted to hear from. i want to thank our good friend david rubenstein for moderating a fascinating conversation with the descendants about their personal firsthand experiences of living in the white house or sharing family stories that have been passed down to them through the ages. that is what it is really like to be in the white house. our next panel, we will shift gears to hollywood and as didi myers said in her message, we will examine how both the big and small screen portray the fictional perspective of the white house and the people who live there and who work there. from comedy to drama as there is no shortage of interest and fascination in washington. there are more shows and more characters and rules that are
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portrayed and examined, and certainly our large volume of material to draw from. one person who knew the power and reach of television was first lady jackie kennedy. when she led a tour of the white house and a landmark television brought crass on valentine's day 1962, 80 million people watched and listened as she walked from room to room. her tv appearance was also syndicated in 50 countries and she not only shine a light on her leadership and historic preservation at the white house, but as one administration critic growth at the time, it helped bridge the gulf, normally separating the white house and the individual citizen. that is the power of television in the movies. the connection they can make to
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telling our nation the story is impactful, but with that and impact comes responsibility, some get it right and some don't and in our next panel you will hear from actors, producers, writers on the productions behind the scenes. you will hear from experienced washingtonians who are technical consultants and have shared their expertise based on years in this town and their own roles in the white house. i have the good fortune to work as a consultant for hbo. it is definitely one of the more fun things i get to do. i cannot recall quite the same antics or the language, from when i was working in the white house. as you see on shows but i can't say this, the team spends a lot of time getting it right. let us dive into our second panel. let us welcome back to the oval office david rubenstein to
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moderate our panel. [applause] adan canto, accomplished actor and known to all of us as white house deputy and chief of staff and later chief of staff, erin shore in designated survivor. tammy haddad, president and ceo, consultant to hbo and several political filmmakers. i also get to work with our league consultant. mack mclarty iii, consulting for a dozen needed survivor. white house down. and many other washington oriented films and television productions. he also served of course as former chief of staff to president bill clinton.
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could pre-show martial, consultant for house of cards. [inaudible] capricia penavic marshall also served as white house social secretary to president mrs. clinton and state department chief of protocol for president obama. kirk, documentarian, producer and executive for play town. james vanderbilt, writer, director producer and screenwriter and producer of white house down. [applause] mr. reuben stein. the stage is yours. >> thank you. mack let's start with you. when you see all these movies or tv shows that portray the chief of staff of white house, do they make him handsome enough, do you think?
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>> some are too tall and too handsome. >> but when you look at them on tv, when you watch the shows, do you think they are reasonably accurate in the way they portray what goes on in the white house, or is it too dramatic? >> david, i think largely it does capture the white house. the ups and downs, the challenges, the fast pace and obviously it is dramatized. i wish we had a script like west wing, that would have helped. , you served as secretary and as you heard earlier, house of cards advisor, so when they are doing house of cards do they call you up and say is this possible? is this accurate? how much input you have and why are they so concerned about accuracy? who cares? we did make a difference? >> actually, mack and i were on witnesses to history ceremonies
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and every day life that occurred. and was asked to advise, i should really get this right. i was a little confused. in west wing, when people were racing back and forth. where are they going? why are they walking so fast? i didn't quite understand that. so i was obsessed with house of cards to advise particularly -- as you know i was chief -- i took it very seriously, because they put these movies and shows -- they are successful. and interesting, because people want that peak behind area really and treat. so we should let them know exactly what is happening. how does this occur? why does this occur? but on this particular scene, i kind of took it a little bit too far and i became the director. i kept saying cut. you cut it wrong. you need to go back and do it
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again. do it again. do it again. when the actors said to me does it really make a difference? i said well if it doesn't really make a difference then why am i here? that was my last day on set with that particular actor. >> so, by the way, as chief of protocol, your job is to make something that does not happen. no embarrassments, give me an example of an embarrassment that occurred. >> that is an easy one. all you have to do is google patricia marshall fall. you will see at the state, at the arrival ceremony of the state dinner at north portico steps, i was leading president and mrs. obama out in a pink ground, and my's guinea he'll got stuck in a divot on the marble, down i went. in front of 300 members of the international press corps, and my mother watching live on c-span from cleveland, ohio. >> i guess that is pretty
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embarrassing. >> president obama thought it was quite funny. the next state visit, as we were walking out, this is for president of korea, he whisper in my ear, will she stay up or will she go down? [laughs] >> all right. kurt, you did a series on john adams. john adams, the first president who lives in what is now the pretty -- white house. how could you possibly know what it looks like in those days? >> we had the benefit of -- we answer to, you talk about authenticity, how important it is. we answer to a higher authority meeting david. he was very involved, with the entire production from the development of the scripts through production. we had a pretty good idea. when you read david's book, you feel like you are at the elbow of both abigail and john adams.
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we had the best possible live in part. >> they only lived there for a few months, right? it was said that abigail adams used to hide after her washout in the east room. is there any truth to that? >> for more david told us, yes. that was part of what we were trying to capture in the show, in this series. we did not want to do a costume drama, we wanted it to seem like this was gritty and difficult, by that point it was the early 19th century. so what was life really like at that time? david always had to us, none of this was -- it was not for ordain to declare independence, etc. we always kept that mind. >> where did you shoot that? >> we shot it primarily in virginia. not too far down in richmond. somewhere in hungary, but primarily richmond. >> when you build the sets, what happened to the sets afterwards? >> i'm sorry.
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the state of virginia still uses them. >> i think they use them for a link. >> yeah, right. >> but i will say in terms of the set, i remember the first day they took david there, but before production. he was with his right rosary, a got emotional when he saw the first show. it was the adams farm, the adams family farm. he got emotional because it was so, it was so as he had, as his research shown. >> it is important for people to have an accurate. when stephen spielberg was doing lincoln, they shot it a richmond as well. they did it at the state capital. they tried to make it look like with the capital would have looked like in washington at the time when they were talking about the 13th and amendment. they made one mistake, they they have a picture of woodrow wilson, he had not been a lot
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of that. apart from that, it was accurate. when you are an actor, do you talk to people, you played national security adviser, chief of staff. have you spoken to someone like a mask or at the people play their roles? >> matt was very kind, about an hour of us time. it was a pretty significant conversation. i was hoping not to be a obnoxious, i had all these questions. it was a pretty big task to play a role like this. and talking about being accurate and getting it right. number one, i felt very excited about it. it is a fascinating world. it is basically carving out our times. history constantly, obviously the fiction does not match reality. but mac was kind enough, to a day, what does a day look like?
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i don't know if any of you have seen the show, but it is kind of a tragic, kind of a high level situation with the capital being bombed, everybody died, basically. the designated survivor has to take the seat of the president. what do you do in that situation? how do you start building from the ground up? there is a series of protocol to go by? the preparation was significant, very helpful. >> you have inspired to play the president, ever? >> i think it would be fantastic. i mean, the fact that i am getting nervous thinking about it says everything. i probably would've loved that. >> okay. so you are a writer, producer. when you came up with your idea for the one about the white house. >> white house down, yeah. >> where did you get the idea
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from, how long did it take to write that? >> i got the idea, i adapted a book by richard clark called against all enemies. he was a kepa terrorist who was under president clipped in -- clinton. the first chapter of the book was on september 11th, i was fascinated by the idea of what would happen in a crisis. much like the beginning of designated survivor, in our film it is the bombing of the capital but as a diversion. i wanted to make something, i want to explore it. i also loved -- i tried to blend the two. >> everything you're right does not make? made >> no. >> i thought everything you wrote made sense. >> god bless you, sir. from your lips. absolutely. it did not end up getting made. >> white house down, you wrote it wet year? >> i wrote it in 2012.
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i did not ray any -- 's i rode on spec. >> that means you are not getting paid? >> it means exactly i'm not getting paid. a week before i have finished, it i read online that a movie called olympics has fallen was just bought, and green lip which is basically the same idea of that movie. i think that is the ball game, i will not get this done. i sort of put it in a drawer. i told my agent about it, i said, you know i wrote this thing it will never work. she said, you wrote it, send it to me. i send it to her, one week leader somebody bought it in a bidding war and green lip it. we were shooting the movie four weeks later. that was very fast. >> green lit means? >> where did you shoot. >> montreal. but things you don't think
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about when you are waiting this is, we are not able to shoot in the white house. we have the record of the biggest a white house that was ever built. we built 65% of the white house to scale. >> wow! where is that now? >> that has been a lot of different boxes. you can sell it to other productions. >> so, tammy, you were adviser to many different shows. advisor of hbo. why do people use you as a cult -- consultant and make sure you are acts -- accurate? and how long to convince you to be accurate? >> i don't convinced them, they want to want to touch anything. there is a decision that the filmmakers make that they wanted to be very dramatic, and whatever it takes for drama. like white house down or in all the way confirmation, some of the films we worked on, you want to be as precise as possible. even the need to work on, it
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everything is exact because they feel like the rioters, they all want to make sure the comedy comes from the fact that it is exactly -- exact believe factual. some of the people on this stage, and some people out there have passed along tips and things that have happened. my favorite story one day, i got a call from an obama person, they said oh my god, you have to do this. that is a big thing in white houses, that's where i give up my phone number. the thing is, the white house sent out a memo saying, the emails are down. you are sending an email out, nobody can get the email. that is -- what we try to do, and what hbo always does, they have the history with recount, game change, confirmation, all the way was originally a broadway play. we have to have it precise. we introduce them to people, we
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let them hear the language. it is really the language that tells you. >> do you read the scripts in advance and tell them what you think? or do you sit on their when they're shooting everything? >> well for veep, we look at the scripts. we just make sure, the hard thing, is we don't know anything about comedy in washington, right? and every so often you think, in might be funnier, and then you say wait, stay in your own lane, you don't know, you are a political producer. it does make it fun here when it is exact. we say in language, what is the clutch? grass tops, high tops, grassroots, last force, all the language use every day. when you sit with the raiders, you bring them to washington, you stood with the raiders -- traitors and you see people talk, not famous for washington. people that worked in capitol hill forever and the back of the white house, they are
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mesmerized by the language. they want to capture it. they do, they make it funnier than you would ever belief. >> how did you get in the business of being an adviser? how does somebody pay to be an adviser? >> i am a longtime political producer. i was looking at it to. long political directorate msnbc, ran larry king live. you have to know is, real wood is not. you have to know people that are willing to tell you everything. that's why i give up my number later, you have one more season of veep coming up. >> okay. i will remind everybody, the mark twain award winner. >> thank you. [applause] the just outed shooting last week, it will come out in april. it is so great that you are doing that, david, thank you. >> it will be a great show. mac, when you are chief of staff of the white house, do you think how will this look on tv and how it's portrayed?
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if somebody ever write something about this, is that your main worry? >> that occurs to us, david. sure. there is no question that the photo op, the message of the day is the media. you want to get your message out there. so perception is important. but, you have to have the right decisions and substance behind it as well. >> so, when the president of the united states is going to make a statement, he can do it in that press room, he can do in the oval office, he can do it in the residence. do they try to vary it? >> sometimes they do it spontaneously, that's where you are worried about. >> okay. capricious, when you are at the state department as political chief, you get events at the very well-known non white house part. describe briefly with those rooms are about. and why you see them on tv as well? >> >>.
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you get an opportunity me to go to the state department when they reopen at the end of august beginning of september. you can visit. the collection in these rooms is an extraordinary gathering of our american story. the collection is valued now at 120 million dollars. they are originals. when i was chief of protocol, i really loved taking our foreign visitors through those rooms, because each piece, each painting, each piece of furniture, extraordinary items that you had donated. the constitution. it was amazing. the table. extraordinary documents were drafted. i would love to tell our visiting delegations all about this, because it tells the
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history of who we are. i would say and this. 200 years old, to the chinese. and they would laugh. and i said oh, it may not be as old as yours, but the story and what it means to us is as rich, if not more. >> as a white house social secretary one of your jobs was to figure out who came to the state dinners, which nobody really wants to go to, of course, that you have to beg people to go, i guess, but sometimes people really want to go and you have to beg them. how many calls did you get from prominent americans saying, i really need to be there. the president really told me i would get invited. ever get those calls? >> i see an in the audience. she's a former social secretary. i would say we would get hundreds of those calls. oh, the president just invited me. don't you know i'm supposed to be there? there is a great story -- social secretary for president
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johnson told all of us that she once received a telephone call that a good friend of the presidents and his wife that she was dying of cancer. if she was not invited, this would be the last moment. you must. you must. she went to mrs. johnston. she told the story. he said i don't know anything about this, but maybe we should. so they did. she said she just saw her shopping. she recently saw her grocery shopping, so clearly she overcame that cancer. >> well, the nation must have given her good health. sometimes you are producing things that are not from the john adams bureau. you produce on cnn in the various things, the sixties, the seventies, so forth. where do you get all that film footage? is it hard to get that? >> no, it's actually, it's everywhere, because we really rely on the archives and from the networks, cbs, abc, nbc.
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the miller center in virginia has been helpful with a lot of the audio recordings. we talked earlier about having phone calls from her father to various figures, but we used those extended extensively from president johnson, kennedy did not require his phone calls but recorded himself on a dictaphone. the miller center has those. those kinds of sources. there's a knock into city when you are looking at the actual footage. i think it's one of the things we hear about our series so much, is that people really feel like they're watching television at the time. >> you've done the sixties -- >> sixties through the 2000s. including a special series. >> which one is the most highly waited. the baby boomers? who watches the sixties and seventies? >> all of the shows have been thankfully done really well and the ratings, but they seem to go up every year.
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more and more -- it's a living memory of more and more people as we get closer to contemporary times. >> we have a coal producer? >> you mean tom hanks? yes. tom hanks is the executive producer. >> so you look at the film. he edited sit with few. he >> does not come to the edits bay very often, but yes, of course. tom and gary both set a pretty high bar from the start with the company. playtime, which they started 20 years ago. and they knew that they want to do history. they knew that they were going to set a pretty high bar, tom, being who he is. people would expect -- one time he was referred as americans historian on the cover of times magazine. that is a high bar we are constantly aware of. >> sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties -- the first ten years. which presidential speech that you put on their gives you the most emotions, if somebody said,
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i just have one minute to watch a presidential clip. which one is the most emotional or you think is the most memorable? >> i would have to say in terms of a speech i would say in deference to mrs. -- lbj speech when he, at the end of his speech, right after selma and he set, and we shall overcome. i was privileged to interview john lewis here in washington. we talked about that moment. he was with dr. king in alabama when they watch that. they had no idea that the president was going to say that. if it was to boil it down to one minute segment i would say that. >> before i got into private equity i thought i should be an actor and i thought it was an easy thing to do, but there were no takers. so i had to do something else. go to law school and business. but being an actor, is that a profession you trained for? did you go to acting school?
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how did you get into that? i did not get into the right school, but how do you get into that profession? >> i wish it was a bit more exciting, but before i was an actor, first of all i had no idea that this was possible. my home town, or towns if i could call it, both towns, south texas and mexico. very small towns. very small towns. and anyway -- >> 100 people? >> something like that. >> did you want to go to hollywood and be famous? >> that was absolutely not in my radar. >> how did you get into this? in case i want to reinvent myself? >> i was a musician. i was a singer, songwriter. i progressed in music to a certain point. life was very, very hard.
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i at that point for some reason i was living in mexico. i've lived in l.a. for a while and decided to go to mexico city, i don't remember how or why. there was this music project that we got going and i was going to do my first album as a singer and all of a sudden the producers that were leading this project, they got fired from their companies and never heard from them again. i had to fend for myself. i was down there. okay, so it away due? and there was commercials. i could find a job at starbucks down there, but it does not pay with starbucks pace in the states. it was not going to work. i had been raised in the states, so it did not make any sense in my head. i started doing commercials and then the casting houses for commercials that films as well. so i want to stop doing commercials, because i really enjoyed finding -- i guess a bit more complex characters. i was fortunate enough to get
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good opportunities aligning with the right projects and characters. i did a very obscure sure show, it was censored because a lot of secrets between government and the world of drugs down in mexico -- it was censored. my only shot could not go out there. i did not have a calling card, but anyway, up to a certain point i decided to come back to l.a.. ever since i have just -- it's just a fascinating world. >> the chops for acting? are they handed out on merits or it's who you know? >> no. it depends on the project. it totally depends on the project. the story. the tone of the pieces a lot as well. there are some amazing actors that do a certain kind of movie that i am not particularly fond of, but i like to watch their
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work because that is something i could never do. >> when you are playing the chief of staff or nsa advisor, you memorize hole pages that a time or do you just do a couple words and then they stop it and you do another couple words? >> i don't. i couldn't do that. which i do is -- i find key words. if there is a page of dialog, it does not matter. it's going to be in here at the end. i don't get nervous about it. i know what's going on. i understand the situation very very well. then i find the key words and subconsciously everything connects with the key words in the situation. all of a sudden after reading it a few times and reacting to my fellow actors on set, it just happens. >> so you've given up you're singing career. you are a full-time actor now. >> somewhat. it's still there but not a priority at all at the moment. >> you don't want to sing anything now, do you?
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[laughs] a favorite song you'd like to sing? any white house related songs? hail to the chief? do you know hail to the chief? >> maybe we could do it together. >> oh well ... the only person in this room who is completely tone-deaf is me. you do not want to hear me sing. tammy, how did you come to washington? why did you come here from wherever you came? where did you come from and how did you -- how did you get interested in politics and the media? >> i was an intern and college, started going to class. i would turn into a tv station. katie cain pittsburgh. i got hired to work on a talk show. immediately got into politics and i should thank you. the jimmy carter white house has unbelievable radio outreach. every day the white house would call and give us a guess, and larry king's radio show.
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do you guys remember larry king? his radio show was in washington. they needed a producer. someone from the white house recommended me, so i moved to washington to do that. i actually remember we were in crystal city, which was brand new then. and i kept trying to get ted turner. he had just launched cnn. so amazing. cnn. i finally booked him. i thought it was the greatest producer north america. he walks in and says to me, would you not like to come work here? so then we ended up going to cnn, and went on to that. but it was always about politics. when you are here in washington, everyone has some sort of piece of it, right? but to be able to decide what is important, to pick the polls, that is pretty exciting. >> what was the most embarrassing moment in larry king show? did somebody not show up? for somebody drunk? >> the most embarrassing moment was when mcal -- >> who is recall wells? >> we're cale welch.
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i remember. >> she was at a desk. she was intoxicating. i went over and said hey, we are going on the air. she said i'm not ready. i said but it's larry king live. we are live. the music is playing. she said, i am not ready. i said we have to come. i pulled her out. she gets on the set -- ladies and gentlemen, it's larry king live! and tonight, we're kelly wells. -- and larry said are you okay? she said it's just a burp, larry. only if you look like rick how wells can you bourbon national television. yeah, that's how it was. >> is that embarrassing enough? it was a great moment when mike and i were talking about it on
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larry king live this weekend and president george -- bush went to congress to vote on going to war and he called it to larry king live and was yelling and i thought oh my goodness -- i stayed in touch with them in two months later he is running for president. so it happened. >> was with those suspenders with larry king? >> i will explain that to you. you should know that. it is the appearance of sitting straight up and down. see? >> i have to get myself a pair of suspenders. when are you writing or producing next? >> i have a movie coming out called the house of the clocks. has nothing to do with the white house. it's with jack black and kate blanche it. it comes out september 21st. please, all of you go see it six or seven times.
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>> it is the essence? >> it's about a young boy in the 19 fifties who loses this parents and goes and lives with his uncle. he doesn't talk much. he discovers this uncle is actually a war lock. he has no rules. you could stay up as late as you want. you could eat cookies for dinner. he sort of gets indoctrinated in this family of witches and wizards. of course there is a bad guy. big and complications ensue. >> sounds like something we all need to go see. so we have a little time left. sorry, you have a question? >> i want to do an addendum to what i said earlier. or add something. i wanted to thank you, david, i am reminded of your contributions lead. >> thank you. >> the contributions that you
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made in your generosity and devotion to our american history, you can see it all over the united states. before the show [applause] everywhere, i was talking about how we were revering you because of your devotion to america. >> thank you very much. >> you should ask him when embarrassing moment did you have at the white house? let's hear about that right now. come on. >> there are a lot of embarrassing moment when i was at the white house. i suspect. when i always remembered was this. my boss, stewart is in stuff, the presidents policy adviser, i was the deputy. in those, days stewart would go home for dinner, and drive himself home. he went home at dinner. i was staying there, i went to the vending machine, i did not go home. one time, stewart was away, and he was coming back and the president of the united states had a thought he would pick, got it would phone directly in
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the office. also flash in my office. i can pick it up as well and stewart was in there, i think i would pick it up myself. i was talking to the president, he thinks for about 30 seconds, it is stewart, and then as i know it is david. he said it is not make a difference, i can talk to you about what i would talk about. when i was giving him my advice, i see stewart coming back walking past my office going to talk to the president. he calls the white house operator and says can you give me the president? he says he is talking to david rubenstein right now. stewart came around and said, i am the president's top advisor, what are you doing talking to him? i recovered, i did not get fired from that. there were other embarrassing moments. the other embarrassing moment was this, during a campaign, we were the last campaign of 1980, we recall back in the middle of the night to go back to the
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white house because of the hostage negotiation that was going in at some break kicking company. the knocking everybody's door and says we are leaving in 3 am, get dressed, get out of here. they claimed they knocked on my door, i said ok, i didn't remember it. i got up at about 7 am, i get dressed, i walk out, and every door is open, there is not one single person left. i wonder what is happening? was a movie, did everybody disappear? i call the white house, this is what happened? he says david you did not show up for the plane, we left without. you too bad, you can come back commercial. when you are traveling with the president, you have to make sure you are there all the time. other embarrassing moments, i don't think people want to hear about my embarrassing moments. i want to thank all of you for giving your time and your energy is here tonight. i hope people have felt their little -- learned a little bit more about the white house, and television, and things related to it. and mac, thank you for redo the
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country and our service. trisha, thank you. thank you for the great documentaries you did. thank you for the great act and give them, and the voice lessons you will give me, i look forward to the movie coming out. what they did to come out? >> september 21st. >> tammy, thank you everything to make sure people understand washington. thank you for coming, i hope you had an enjoyable time. >> i i look thank you all for working with this with a hot issue encounter night. we have three announcements before everybody departs. i would like to invite the rest of the panelists to join this panel. our presidential descendants, if you can cue up over here for a photograph with. you we will have you all sign a desk drawer of the resolute desk. for those at you that attended our summit, we have ten especially restaurants and bars
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specials throughout the week, through friday. special drinks, special meals, special discounts. you can also see them on our west -- website white house history that work. for them that came on the bullet hotel on a bus, the bus will pick you the same place they dropped you off. thank you all for being with us tonight. and we will see you first in the morning, to everybody else, go home, cool off. good night, thank you. okay, presidential descendants, come on up.
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every weekend documenting america story, funding for american history tv from some of these companies. support c-span 3 as a public service. weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on
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c-span 3. tuesday night we tuesday look at night we look at pandemics and disease and in pandemics and disease 1918 flu virus affected. one third of the world's population. nancy bristo from the university talks about the correlation between earlier pandemic and today's global crisis. beginning at 8 pm eastern. on c-span 3. it's a library of congress is an academy award winning short documentary taking viewers in the libraries reading rooms. collections and operations. including field reportings of folk musicians. the film highlights the institutions benefits to the public and scholars worldwide. series entitled the american scene. the film was created by the u.s. office of war informations overseas grant. world war ii office operating in europe and the pacific to support the war effort through print, radio and film productions.


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