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Wag the Dog [DVD] [1997]

Release Date:07/29/1998
New Line Cinema's DVD of Wag the Dog could possibly be the most cerebral DVD ever produced. The digital transfer is good, the film presented in either 1.85:1 widescreen or full frame. The commentary track features director Barry Levinson and actor Dustin Hoffman, although the two were recorded separately and edited together. Levinson's commentary is dry and very matter of fact, but it is worth it to hear a great actor like Hoffman frankly discussing his craft. Few will have the patience to read the essay "The Line Between Truth and Fiction," presented in chapters from the bonus materials menu. "From Washington to Hollywood and Back" is an incredibly informed documentary on the history of journalism, politics, and entertainment, and features interviews with Levinson, John Frankenheimer, Dee Dee Myers, Tom Brokaw, and others, while including some candid footage from a documentary about the 1992 presidential election. Finally, the disc features a short segment with actor William H. Macy discussing the genius of writer David Mamet that will probably only appeal to fans of the writer's work. Wag the Dog is a stunningly frank and informed platinum edition DVD from New Line, another reminder of what the format is capable of at its best.

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    Ratings & Reviews

    Overall Customer Rating:
    100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (4 out of 4)

    Special Features

    • Widescreen and full-screen versions of the film
    • Audio commentary by Barry Levinson and Dustin Hoffman
    • "From Washington to Hollywood and Back": a featurette including interviews with Barry Levinson, Jane Rosenthal, Tom Brokaw, John Frankenheimer, Dee Dee Myers, Budd Schulberg, Chris Hegadus, and D.A. Pennebaker
    • "The Line Between Truth and Fiction," essay on politics and the media
    • Theatrical trailer
    • Cast and crew biographies and filmographies
    • Animated menus


    Wag the Dog
    In a 29-day shoot, Barry Levinson filmed this $15 million political and media satire, adapted by Hilary Henkin and David Mamet from Larry Beinhart's novel, American Hero. Two weeks prior to re-election, the President (Michael Belson) is accused of cornering an underage girl in the Oval Office. To keep the media from learning of this, Presidential adviser Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) brings in political consultant and spin doctor Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro), a specialist in such salvage operations. Brean suggests fabricating denials of non-existent emergencies -- such as denials about the B-3 bomber. The denial, of course, is true, since no B-3 bomber exists. Brean visits the mansion of Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) and gives him the assignment to create a patriotic campaign centered around a war in Albania. Motss assembles a creative team -- Liz Butsky (Andrea Martin), the trend-setter Fad King (Denis Leary), and songwriter Johnny Green (Willie Nelson). Treated like an ad campaign, the songs and symbols are transmitted directly from a Hollywood soundstage to CNN. The star of their campaign is a "rescued" pilot -- in reality, a psychotic military prisoner (Woody Harrelson), who's a ticking time bomb. The flag-waving song, "The American Dream" was written for the film by Tom Bahler (who co-wrote "We Are the World"). Beinhart's original novel involved a real President (Bush), a real war (the Gulf War), and the premise that George Bush and Saddam Hussein staged it. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Dustin Hoffman
      Dustin Hoffman - Stanley Motss
    • Robert De Niro
      Robert De Niro - Conrad Brean
    • Anne Heche
      Anne Heche - Winifred Ames
    • Woody Harrelson
      Woody Harrelson - Sgt. William Schumann
    • Denis Leary
      Denis Leary - Fad King

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.