Celebrity-in-chief: How Show Business Took Over the White House

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Westview Press, 2004 - Performing Arts - 354 pages
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U.S. presidents and Hollywood have had a mutual admiration society that extends far back into history. In Celebrity-in-Chief, journalist Alan Schroeder contends that each camp has influenced the other-particularly over the past century-creating a president who no longer stands apart upon a remote civic pedestal, isolated from Hollywood and pop culture. Instead, the powerful forces of the American celebrity circus drag him into the tent and ask him to put on a show. The job of president has always been politically demanding, but now there is another requirement: to exude star quality. In the parlance of Hollywood, he must "fill the frame." Drawing upon a wealth of fascinating anecdotes about some of the most celebrated individuals in American history, Schroeder shows how a succession of presidents since Woodrow Wilson has put on a show with mixed results. Whether it was Bill Clinton playing sax on TV talk shows or George W. Bush's Top Gun stunt aboard an aircraft carrier, Celebrity-in-Chief entertainingly and convincingly shows that the result is a wholesale demystification of the office-and that this marriage of pop culture and the presidency will continue to fascinate and endure.

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Celebrity-in-chief: how show business took over the White House

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Television producer Schroeder (journalism, Northeastern Univ.; Presidential Debates: 40 Years of High-Risk TV) captures the dilemmas that Presidents have faced during the Media Age when they have ... Read full review


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Page 251 - Yet Miss Truman cannot sing very well. She is flat a good deal of the time— more last night than at any time we have heard her in past years. There are few moments during her recital when one can relax and feel confident that she will make her goal, which is the end of the song.
Page 33 - I have a baby and then you send him off to war. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot. And, Mrs. Johnson, in case you don't understand the lingo that's marijuana!
Page 199 - Mrs. Roosevelt and I are deeply distressed. Carole was our friend, our guest in happier days. She brought great joy to all who knew her and to the millions who knew her only as a great artist. She gave unselfishly of her time and talent to serve her government in peace and war. She loved her country. She is and always will be a star, one we shall never forget nor cease to be grateful to.
Page 299 - I will admit to you that the reason I'm going ahead with this attempt now is because I just cannot wait any longer to impress you. I've got to do something now to make you understand in no uncertain terms that I am doing all of this for your sake.
Page 328 - The research and writing of this book would not have been possible without the help of numerous institutions and individuals.
Page 70 - The drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc. do not consider me as their enemy or as they call it, the establishment. I call it America and I love it. Sir, I can and will be of any service that I can to help the country out.
Page 39 - It doesn't help matters when prime time TV has Murphy Brown — a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman — mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another "lifestyle choice.
Page 294 - There have been times in this office when I've wondered how you could do the job if you hadn't been an actor.
Page 251 - And still the public goes and pays the same price it would for the world's finest singers.... It is an extremely unpleasant duty to record such unhappy facts about so honestly appealing a person. But as long as Miss Truman sings as she has for three years, and does today, we seem to have no recourse unless it is to omit comment on her programs altogether.
Page 45 - I mean, if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?

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About the author (2004)

Alan Schroeder is an associate professor in the School of Journalism at Northeastern University. A three-time Emmy-award-winning television producer and a frequent media commentator, he is the author of Presidential Debates: 40 Years of High-Risk TV. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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