The War Room Documentary

War Dogs

Looking Back at the Bill Clinton Documentary That Inspired “The Bunker”

Documentary Now! returns to IFC this Wednesday, September 14th at 10P with the campaign classic "The Bunker."

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Photo Credit: October Films/Everett Collection.

Before presidential campaigns were dissected by every news channel, website and Twitter troll, the Oscar-winning documentary The War Room exposed the inner workings of the 1992 Clinton/Gore ticket.

To get you ready for “The Bunker” —  Documentary Now!‘s season premiere which takes a look at the heated Ohio Governor campaign that also garnered a good deal of buzz in ’92 — here are a few things you need to know about the film that inspired Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and the rest of the Doc Now! team.

Meet the Ragin’ Cajun

Bill Hader James Carville speech

Released in 1993, The War Room introduced the world to James Carville, Clinton’s cantankerous lead campaign strategist and possessor of a Cajun snarl that could bring weaker men to their knees. (He also knew how to rock some multicolored ’90s outfits.)

A wiz with a catchphrase (you can thank him for “It’s the economy, stupid!”), Carville quickly became a hit on the cable news and late night TV circuit. Saturday Night Live took notice, with everyone from John Malkovich to Documentary Now!‘s own Bill Hader spoofing his bulldog political tactics and colorful Cajun aphorisms.


NBC

Hader once again perfectly captures Carville’s mannerisms and unique turns-of-phrase with Teddy Redbones, the “Mississippi Machiavelli” campaign guru he plays in “The Bunker.” Watch these clips of Carville from The War Room and Hader in “The Bunker.” They could easily be Cajun cousins!

Ladies Love Cool George

Fred Armisen Bunker

The other breakout star of The War Room was Clinton’s Communications Director/handsome gent George Stephanopoulos. With a laidback demeanor that offset Carville’s intensity and a haircut that rivaled that other George who everyone loved in the ’90s, Stephanopoulos quickly became a political heartthrob.

In “The Bunker,” Fred Armisen plays Stephanopoulos surrogate Alvin “Boy Hunk of the Beltway” Panagoulious as an aw-shucks player — casually flirting with news hosts and decrying supermodel posters on the office wall for only featuring “nines out of 10.”

Clinton’s Campaign Played Dirty

Like Obama, Clinton ran on a campaign of “change versus more of the same,” a slogan coined by Carville.

In one scene in The War Room, Carville and the team work on an attack ad that took aim at George Bush’s backpedaling on his “No New Taxes” promise. (Watch the attack ad from “The Bunker” above.) As Carville said, their aim was to go after “the whole sleazy cabal” of the wealthy elite, and The War Room shows Clinton’s team slamming Bush’s every misstep, like the time he was confused by a grocery store scanner.

The Birth of “Slick Willie”

Remember Gennifer Flowers? Reports of Bill Clinton’s affair with the Penthouse model surfaced during the making of The War Room, and the film captures the way his team dodged the illicit allegations and spun voters towards focusing on the issues. (Bill could’ve used his “War Room” a few years later during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.)

Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker were only given minimal access to Clinton, who comes out looking far more rosy than the wheeling and dealing duo of Carville and Stephanopoulos. “The Bunker” nods to this in the way Councilman Herndon keeps his hands clean as Redbones and Panagoulious smear incumbent Governor Lester.

To see how well Documentary Now! captures The War Room, catch the premiere of “The Bunker” Wednesday, September 14th at 10P on IFC. It’ll change the way you think about elections.

Bill Hader Bunker

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Nick Kroll and John Mulaney To Host Spirit Awards

The Spirit Awards Air February 25 LIVE on IFC.

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The 2017 Spirit Awards have finally found their frontmen: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. And it’s no wonder. Just marvel in their splendid chemistry back when they appeared on Comedy Bang! Bang!:

The pair are prolific within the performing arts community: television (Kroll in The League and The Kroll Show, Mulaney as a writer of IFC’s own Documentary Now!), theater (including Broadway’s current Oh Hello Show), and stand-up comedy. In fact, it’s entirely possible that emceeing an awards show is one of the few remaining line items on their professional bucket lists.

It’s important to caveat this announcement, however. Unlike the bigger and more ubiquitously known awards shows, the Spirit Awards are not, well…boring. (We’re talking to you, Oscar.)

They’re funny. They’re honest. They have quality to match the red-carpet fanfare. And that’s alarmingly special. Last year’s show included some legitimately historic moments, like when transgender actress Mya Taylor won best supporting female, or Kate McKinnon’s hilarious and timely parody of Carol. See more highlights here to get the flavor of the Spirit Awards and read all about Film Independent to dig deeper.

The 2017 Spirit Awards air live February 25 at 5P ET exclusively on IFC.

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