tv The White House in Film TV CSPAN April 6, 2021 6:01pm-6:48pm EDT
everyone to check out the website. you can sign up for the remaining events this spring at website. thank you very much. watch tonight beginning at 8 pm eastern. and enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span 3,. >> filmmakers and former white house officials describe the work on productions depicting white house and the presidency. the discussion hosted by the white house historical
association was recorded at the john f. kennedy center for the performing arts and washington d.c.. >> good evening, i hope you've been enjoying tonight's program. it's fascinating and there's more to come. a year ago, i was honored when fred ryan, the chair of our board asked me to chair the white house historical associations board committee for this important four-day summit. i want to thank the members of our committee, martha, mike mockery and stop and a historian advisor for their year long commitment and their numeral contributions to the planning of the senate. with a tremendous that for the white house -- and leadership, we've convened more than 100 presidential sites, as well as leading experts in a wide array of fields and interest at the presidential site representatives told us that they wanted to hear from.
i want to thank our good friend, david rubenstein for mild writing a fascinating conversation with the descendants about their personal, firsthand experiences of a living in the white house or sharing family stories that have been passed down to them through the ages. that is what is really like to be in the white house. and 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 a fictional perspective of the white house and the people who live there and who work there. from comedies dramas, there is no shortage of interest and fascination and washington. there are more shows, more characters and rules that are portrayed and examined and certainly a 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 in a landmark television broadcast on valentine's day, 1962, 80 -- 80 million people watched and listened as she walked from room to room. her tv appearance was also syndicated in 50 countries. she not only shined a light on her leadership and historic preservation at the white house, but as one administration critic wrote at the time, it helped bridge the gulf, normally separating the white house and the individual citizen. that's the power of television and the movies. the connection they can make the telling our nation story is impactful. but with that impact comes responsibility. some get it right, and some
don't. and our next panel, you will hear from actors, producers, riders on the protections behind the scenes. and you'll hear from experienced washingtonians who are technical consultants and have shared their expertise based on years in this town and their own rules in the white house. i have the good fortune to work as a consultant for hbo is a veep, it is definitely one of the more fun things i get to do. i can't 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 say this, the team spends a lot of time getting it right. so let's dive into our second panel, please first welcome back to the oval office, david rubenstein to moderator panel.
>> aiding can't, of accomplished actor in known to all of us as white house deputy■ chief of staff and later chief of staff, erin shore and designated survivor. tammy had, that president and ceo head that media, tammy is a consultant to hbo and several political filmmakers i also get to work with her on vp, where she's are the consultant. macramé clarity, chairman of mccarthy associates consultant for designated survivor, white house down and many other oriented films and productions. he also served of course as former chief of staff to president bill clinton. appreciate marshall, consultant for house of cards appreciate
also served as white house photo secretary to president mrs. clinton and state dependency for protocol from president obama. kirk said dusky, documentarian, producer and executive for play tone. and james vanderbilt, writer, director, producer and screenwriter and producer of white house down. mr. rubenstein, the stage is yours. >> so, mcvay don't we start with you, you've been chief of staff in white house racial these movies and she shows to the make him handsome enough you think? when >> you look at them on tv
when you watch various shows, do you think that there recently accurate for wet portrays 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-paced and obviously is privatized. i always wish we had a script like west wing. that would have helped. pre-show, you've served as forceful secretary and head of protocol. and as you heard earlier, house of cards advisor. when they're doing house of cards and they were doing, it did they call you up and say is this possible? is this accurate? how much impact do you have and why are they so concerned about accuracy? who cares if it's really that accurate? will it make a difference? >> well actually david, we were all witnesses to history and ceremonies and every day life --
i was asked to advise, i thought guys we should really get this right. i was a little confused when people were racing back and forth. where they? going why they're walking so fast? i didn't quite understand that. so, when i was asked on house of cards to advise, in particular in my state arrival because as you know, i was a chief of protocol. they took me very seriously. it took me seriously because they put these movies and shows that are successful and interesting because people want that peak behind the curtain, the really intrigued so we should let them know exactly what's happening. how does this occur? why does it occur? but on this particular scene, i kind of took it a little bit too far and i became the director and i kept saying cut. you got it wrong. you need to go back and do it again and do it again and one of the actors, who shall remain nameless, saying to me, does it really make a difference and i
said, well if it doesn't really make a difference, why am i here? that was my last day on set with that particular actor. by >> the way, as chief of protocol your job is to make sure nothing bad happens, and no embarrassment. given an example of an embarrassing think that occurred. >> all you have to do is google commercial marshal fall, and you will see at the arrival ceremony for the state dinner at the north court of course that's, i was leading president and mrs. obama out in the very alley can pick down and my skinny heel got stuck in a divot on the marble and down i went in front of 300 members of the international press corps and my mother watching live on sea and then. >> okay, i guess that's pretty embarrassing. >> president obama thought it was quite funny because the next state visit, has were walking out and this is the
president of korea, he whispered in my ear, well she stay up or will she go down? >> all right, so kirk, you did a series on john adams. try not hams was the first president to actually live in what is now the white house. so, how could you possibly know what it looked like in those days? >> well we have the benefit -- we answer -- you were talking about authenticity and how important that is. we answer to a higher authority and so, she was very involved and with the entire production from development of the scripts and through production. so we have a pretty good idea when he read it it's book, you kind of feel like you're at the elbow of both abigail and john adams. so we had the most possible blueprint. >> they lived there for a few months, is that? right >> right. >> so you said abigail adams used to hide her hat in the
east room, is there any truth to that? >> from what david has told us, yes. i mean, that was part of what we were trying to capture in the show, in the series, is how -- we didn't want to do a costume drama. we wanted it to seem like this was something -- this was gritty and difficult. this was -- by that point, it was the early 19th century. and so, what was life really like at that time? there was said to us, none of this was for ordained, it wasn't for ordained that we declared it. so we always kept that in mind. >> where did you choose? that >> we/myñ shot it primariln virginia, not too far down in richmond. some of it in hungry but primarily enrichment. >> when you build the sets, what happens to the sets afterwards? do you saw them off? >> the state of virginia still uses them. i think to use them from lincoln, if i'm not mistaken.
but i will say, in terms of the set, i remember the first day, we took david there, right before we start production. and he was with his wife, rosa lean and he caught a little emotional when he saw the first set that we showed him. and it was the adams family farm and he got emotional because it was so advanced, and he -- has recession. >> i know it's very important to have people -- steven spielberg was doing lincoln, they actually shot it enrichment as well, and they did it to at the state capital and they try to make it look like with the capitol would've looked like in washington at the time when they were talking about the 13th amendment. they made one mistake, they left a bust of woodrow wilson up and he hadn't been alive then. but anyways, it was pretty accurate aside from that. so when you are an actor, to talk to people -- you play the national security
adviser, chief of staff. have you talk to somebody like black or other people that play those roles? >> mac was very kind and he -- was about an hour of his time. it was a pretty significant conversation. i was hoping not to be obnoxious, he just had all these questions and it's a pretty big task to play a role like this a little talk about beating accurate and getting a right. i just felt number, one i felt very excited about. it's a fascinating world and%;bc it's basically carving out our times and we're building a future. the history constantly and obviously, fiction doesn't match reality but mac was kind enough to -- i sort of narrowed it down to a day. but this is a look? like and i don't know if any of you have seen the show, but it's kind of a tragic, kind of
a high-level situation where the capital has been bombed and everybody died, basically. and the designated survivor has to take and see the president and what do you do in that situation? how do you start building from the ground up? there's a series of protocols that here to go by. the preparation was significant, very helpful. >> you have inspired to play the president, ever? do you aspire to play the president? never >> 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 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 counter-terrorism expert under president clinton. 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 capitol but as a diversion. i wanted to make something, i want to explore it. i also loved -- i tried to blend the two. i love summer popcorn movies. >> everything you write does not get made. everything in hollywood does not get? made >> no. god bless you. sir >> 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. i did not tell anybody but i wrote it 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 had just been bought, and another one which is basically the same idea that. movie i said that's the ball game, i will not get this. done 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 so many pictures bought it in a bidding war and green lit 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 about when you are waiting this is, we are not able to shoot in the white house. we have the record of
the biggest white house that was ever. bill we built 65% of the white house to scale. >> while! 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. adviser to hbo. why do people who use you as a consultant want to make sure that it is accurate? and how do they convince you to be accurate? >> i don't convinced, and they don't want to touch anything. there is a decision that the filmmakers make that want to be dramatic, and confirmation some of the films that have worked on we wanted to be as precise as possible. or even the need to work on, and 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 factual. actually some of the people here on the stage and some people out there have passed along tips on 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's a big thing in the white houses that's where i get out my phone number. the thing is, the white house sent out a memo saying the emails are. down classic beat moment. you're sending the email out, nobody can get the email. somewhat we've tried 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 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 funnier when it is exact. we say language what is the clutch? ross topside tops grassroots, last force, all the language use every day. when you sit with the rioters, you bring them to washington, you sit with the rioters, 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 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 one prepare to be an adviser in this? way >> i am a longtime political producer. i was looking at it to. long political directorate msnbc, ran larry king live. you enough to know what is real and what is not. you have to know people that are willing to tell you everything. again, that's why i get might number later, we have one more season of veep coming up. >> okay i will remind everybody that richard drive has won the mark twain award. >> thank you [applause]. the pit just started shooting last, week it will come out in april. it is so great to you doing that david. thank you >> it will be a great show, mike when you were chief of staff of the white house, how do you think this will look on tv, and how it's portrayed? if somebody will 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. your point of view. 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. capricia, when you are at the state department as political chief, you get events at the very well-known non white house, part the benjamin franklin room and so forth. describe briefly with those rooms are about. and why you see them on tv as well? >> they are very historic, the collection if you get an
opportunity people should go to the state department and when they reopen at the end of august beginning of september. and visit. the collection that is in those rooms is an extraordinary gathering of our american story. i think 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 had been 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 history of who we are. i would say this is 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. >> so when you are the white house social secretary, one of your jobs to figure out who come to the state, dinners which nobody really wants to go to of course. you have to beg people to go against, but sometimes people really want to go and you don't have to beg them. how many calls did you get from prominent american saying, i really need to be there. the president really told me i would get invited. do you ever get those calls? >> icy and in the audience, she's a formal social secretary. i would say we would get hundreds of those calls, and hundreds of, all the president just invited me, don't you know i'm supposed to be there? there is a great story -- the social secretary for president johnson told all of us that she once received a telephone call that a good friend of the presidents and
his wife was dying of cancer. if she is not invited to the state visit, it will be her last moment. you have to, him, esteem. us all she went to mrs. johnston, and she told of the story. and mrs. johnston 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 fatal cancer. >> well the invitation must have given her good health? right sometimes you are producing things that are not from the john adams bureau correct? you produce on cnn in the various things, the sixties, the seventies and so forth. where do you get all that film footage? is it hard to get the? >> no it's actually, it's everywhere, we really rely on the archives and the network, cbs, abc, nbc. the mueller center in virginia has been very helpful with a lot of the audio recordings.
talk about having the phone calls from her father will we use those extensively. president kennedy actually didn't record his phone calls but recorded himself on a dictaphone. the miller center has. those from those kinds of sources. there's an authenticity when you are looking at the actual footage. i think that's one of the things that we hear about our series so much, that people really feel like they're watching television at the time. >> so you've done the -- sixties >> sixties through the 2000s, including a special series. >> which one is the most highly rated? the baby boomers? who watches the sixties and seventies? >> all of the shows have been thankfully done really well in the ratings but they seem to go up every year. more and more it's the living memory of more and more people as we get closer to
contemporary times. >> you have a co-producer? >> you mean tom hanks? yes tom hanks is the executive producer. >> so you look at the film and as he added it with you. >> he does not come into the end it bake very often, but yes, of course, tom and gary both set a pretty high bar from the start of the company played tone, which they started 20 years ago now. and they knew that they wanted to do history. they knew that they were going to set a pretty high bar, obviously tom being who is, people would expect? one time he was referred to 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. >> the 2000s. >> which presidential speech the put on the air gives you the most emotion, if somebody said, i just have one minute to watch a presidential clip, which one is the most emotional or you think is the most
memorable? >> i'd have to say in terms of a speech, in deference to mrs. -- lbj's speech when he at the end of a speech, right after selma and he said, and we shall overcome. i was privileged to interview john lewis here in washington here, and we talked about that moment, because he was with doctor king in alabama when they watched that. they had no idea that the president was going to say that. so if i 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 that you trained? four did you go to acting school? how did you get into that? i did not get in the right school, but how did you get into that profession?
with some help i assume? >> 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 hometown or towns if i could call it both towns in south texas and mexico. very small towns, very very, small towns. and anyway -- >> 100? people >> something like. the >> did you want to go to hollywood and the famous? >> that was absolutely not on my radar. >> how did you get into? this in case you want to reinvent myself again? >> i was a musician. i was a singer, songwriter and i progressed in music to a certain point on. life was very, very hard. at that point for some reason i was living in mexico, so i had 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 we're 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, six and there was commercials, i could find a job and starbucks down there, but it does not pay with starbucks pays in the states. it was not going to work, and i have been raised in the state, so did not make any sense in my head. i started doing commercials and then the casting houses for commercials did films as well. so i wanted to stop doing commercials because i really enjoyed finding -- i guess a bit more complex characters. i was fortunate enough to get good opportunities aligning with the right projects in
characters. i did a very obscure tv show that was actually censored because it was portraying a lot of secrets between government and the world of drugs down in mexico, it was censored. my only job i could not go out there, so i did not have a calling card. but anyway, up to a certain point i decided to come back to l.a., and ever since i have just, it's just a fascinating world. >> the jobs for acting, are they handed out on merit or is it sometimes who you know? >> no, it depends on the project, it totally depends on the project, on this story, the tone of the peace says 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 work because that is something i could never do. >> so when you are playing the
chief of staff or nsa advisor, do you memorize whole pages at a time or do you just do a couple of words and then they stop and you do another couple of words? >> i don't, i couldn't do that. what 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, so 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 and the situation and all of a sudden after reading it a few times and reacting to my fellow actors on set, it just happens. >> okay so you've given up your singing career, here 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 right? >> [laughs] >> a favorite song elect is saying? any white house related?
songs hail to the? chief dino hale to the chief? >> maybe we can do it together. [applause] >> i am the only person in this room who is completely tone-deaf that's me. you do not want to hear. missing some tammy outage you come to washington? why did you come here from wherever you came from? and where did you get interested in politics and the media? >> i was an intern in college and instead of going to class, i could in turn at a tv station in pittsburgh. i got hired to work on a talk show and immediately got interested into politics and i should thank you. jimmy carter white house had unbelievable radio outreach. every day the white house would call and give us a guest, and then larry king's radio show. do you guys remember larry king? his radio show was in washington and they needed a
producer. someone from the white house recommended me, so i moved to washington to do that. i actually remember we will ruin crystal city, which was brand-new then. and i kept trying to get ted turner who, had just launched cnn. so amazing, cnn. i finally booked him, i thought he was the greatest producer in north america, and he walks in and says to me, would you 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. >> so when you were doing the larry king show, what was the most embarrassing moment? to somebody not show? up with somebody? drunk >> ok, the most embarrassing moment was when we're cal welch. >> michael walter. i remember her >> >> raw cow welch. she was at a desk she was
intoxicating and i went over and said 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 while you have to come. i pulled out. she gets on the set -- loud isn't gentlemen it's larry king live! and tonight, raquel welch. and she burped. and larry said oh are you okay? and she said always just a burglary. and by the way only if you are raquel walls can you bourbon national television. is that embarrassing? enough we had ross perot on larry king live the famous weekend when george herbert walker bush was going to vote
on congress and whether to go to war, and robert moss burger called into larry king live remember, and it was yelling at ross perot. and he said i mcguinness disco has more power than a thought. he just rescued his staff from iran, and i stayed with him, and two months later he announced he was running for president. so what happens. >> what's with those suspenders of larry king? >> i will explain that to you. you should know that because you're a producer. it's the appearance of sitting straight up and down. see? >> i have to get myself a pair of suspenders. what are you writing or producing next? i have a movie coming out called the house of the clocks. which has nothing to do with the white house. it's with jack block in cape lunch at. comes out september 21st. please only go see it six or seven times. i'm not telling you the ending. >> is it the essence?
it >> it is about a young boy in the fifties who loses his parents and goes and lives with his uncle. it doesn't talk much. he discovers this uncle is actually a war luck. he has no rules. you can stamp of ladies you. are you giddy cookies for dinner. he sort of gets indoctrinated in this family of family of witches and wizards. witches and wizards of course there is a bad guy 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 to -- . [applause] >> thank you. >> the contributions that you made in your generosity and devotion to our american history, you can see it all over the united states. before
before the show, 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. [applause] >> there are a lot of embarrassing moment when i was at the white house. i suspect. one of them i always remember it 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 phone he could just pick up and it would ring directly in stewart's office. it would also flash in my office. i can pick it up as ali
well and one time the president called steward was not there, i thought i would pick it up myself. i was talking to the president he thinks for about 30 seconds of his tour, and then i know it is david. he said it does make a difference that can talk to you about what i wanted to talk to stewart about. when i was giving him, advice assist or come back walking past my office or going to talk to the office. he calls the white house operators has can you give me the? president he says he's talking to david rubenstein right now. ignore 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 white house because of the hostage negotiation that was going in and some break had come
through. so they knocked on everybody's door at the hotel, said we are leaving at 3 am, get dressed were getting out of fear. they claim the knock on my door and i said okay, but i didn't remember it. i got up at about 70, and i get dressed, i walk out, in every door is open. there's not one single person left. i wonder what is happening? was this a movie did everybody? disappear i called the white house and asked. they said david, you do not show up for the plane, we left without you. so too bad you can come back commercial. so when you are traveling with the president, you have to make sure you were there all the time. there are other embarrassing moments, but 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 they learned a little bit more about the white house, and also television, and things related to it. mac thank you for what you've and our service. trisha thank you for what you've done and thank you for the great documentaries you have done. thank you for the great acting
and the voice lessons you are going to give me, i look forward to your movie coming. it went to coming out david. since >> -- september 20. first >> tammy, thank you everything to make sure people understand washington. thank you for coming, i hope you had an enjoyable time. [applause] >> we'll look forward to the washington historical situation. we have three announcements before everyone 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 photograph with you. and then we were off you sign a desk drawer of the resolute desk. for those at you that attended our summit, we have ten especially restaurants and bars specials throughout the week, through friday. special drinks, special meals, special discounts. you also see them on
our website, white house history .org. then it came on the hotel on a bus, the bustle picky the same place a drop to. off thank you all for being with us tonight. for sunday yours we will see first thing in the morning, to everybody else, go home and goodnight. okay, presidential descendants, come on up.
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