America’s perception of the presidency is often driven by image. The People's President: Man, Myth and the Media, looks at the role of Hollywood film and network/cable television in both shaping and reflecting America’s views of the presidency. The film is a presentation of the White House Historical Association, and is produced by Chuck Workman in association with WETA Washington, D.C. The People's President is dedicated to the late Hugh Sidey, journalist, historian and former chairman and long-time member of the board of directors of the White House Historical Association.
For as long as film has captured the president, Hollywood has been there to provide its take on the nation’s leader. In 1915, Abraham Lincoln was portrayed in Birth of a Nation. Henry Fonda played in Young Mr. Lincoln in 1939. Fonda also played a fictional president in Meteor, trying to protect citizens from a runaway asteroid headed for Earth. With the help of the Soviets, and Sean Connery, the world is saved from annihilation.
In The People's President, Workman has weaved together 130 clips from film (Kisses for my President, All the President’s Men, Dave, Fahrenheit 9/11); television (The West Wing, Truman); newsreels and press coverage plus presidential caricatures, cartoons, and souvenirs, to explain the traits we treasure in our leader and the danger of idealizing or demonizing the president at the expense of understanding the daily grind of governance.