'Trumbo' Shows Hollywood's Ugly Political Side

Cranston, left, and Roach spoke with Roll Call in an interview Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Washington might be Hollywood for ugly people, but in "Trumbo," the new movie about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, the ugliness of politics comes straight from the movies' dream factory.  

For star Bryan Cranston, the chance to tell Trumbo's story was a "really important part of American history, of Hollywood history, that was a blemish on our Constitution," he told CQ Roll Call. Far from a distant episode, Cranston said the attitudes that pushed such political attacks mid-century haven't exactly been banished. "I think that kind of polemic is dangerous. And that’s what we see in politics right now," he continued. The blemish he referred to started with the Hollywood elite imploring Congress to probe the industry for communists. Walt Disney, Hedda Hopper, Ayn Rand and others congregated under the aegis of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals and encouraged the House Un-American Activities Committee to root out their political enemies.  

Fred Thompson's Best Washington Roles

Thompson's Trudeau, seen here with Dennis Franz's Capt. Carmine Lorenzo, helped keep it together at Dulles International Airport in "Die Hard 2." (Courtesy AF archive/Alamy).

As Washington mourns the death of one of its own , former Sen. Fred Thompson, Hollywood is also contending with the loss of a reliable Washington heavy.  

The Tennessee Republican was a hulking presence: 6 feet, 6 inches of Southern baritone drawl. His political work started as Republican counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee before he went into acting, and he spent decades toggling back and forth between the two worlds. Although his most famous role was likely as New York District Attorney Arthur Branch on multiple "Law and Order" shows, Thompson was a constant presence in fake Washington. He played presidents, members of Congress, FBI and CIA directors and one iconic transit bureaucrat.  

Afghanistan Is for Documentarians

Junger is among the filmmakers making documentaries about the war in Afghanistan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The United States' longest war has not led to the type of feature cinema that helped define previous conflicts.  

The fighting in Afghanistan, lurching along even now after the formal end of U.S. combat operations last year, has not produced a "Casablanca" or "Saving Private Ryan" or "Apocalypse Now." Whether it's the economics of the industry or the difficulty in defining the post-9/11 era, Hollywood has been relatively hesitant to venture fictionally into the quagmire. Not so, documentary filmmakers.  

'Immigration Battle' Reveals Big, Little Congressional Details

Gutiérrez, center, gets top bill in "Immigration Battle." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

They were two days away.  

Reps. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., had a July 12, 2014, meeting scheduled with Speaker John A. Boehner to present the Ohio Republican with their immigration reform bill, complete with a whip count, that was ready for introduction.  

They Do Make Movies Like That Anymore

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

The type of movies Hollywood supposedly doesn't make anymore are getting a lot of screen time in Washington, D.C. Tom McCarthy's film "Spotlight," about the Boston Globe investigative team that broke the story on the Catholic Church's cover-up of serial sexual abuse in the priesthood, made its Washington premiere on Sept. 30, the opening night of Double Exposure: The Investigative Film Festival .  

On Tuesday night, the Motion Picture Association of America hosted a screening and discussion of the film as part of Free Speech Week, where the connection between journalism and the movies was driven home by the MPAA's vice president of legal affairs, Ben Sheffner, himself a one-time journalist (including at Roll Call).  

Afghan Ambassador on Hand for Documentary Screening

Talk about timing.  

Coming to a National Mall Near You

The National Gallery of Art is just one of the cultural institutions in D.C. offering free movie screenings. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The various Smithsonian and related government institutions around the capital region always offer a healthy serving of gratis good cinema in grand facilities such as the National Gallery of Art, the Freer and Sackler museums and the National Archives.  

This week, it's as simple as walking in the door to watch some interesting, influential or just plain weird movies at those spots.  

D.C.'s Spotlight on 'Spotlight'  

David Simon was right at home on stage at the National Portrait Gallery, moderating a post-screening panel of people who made the film "Spotlight" happen.  

Investigative Film Festival Opens in D.C.

Edward Snowden will participate in a panel discussion via Skype. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images File Photo)

The Founding Fathers thought so much of the power of the press they reserved a special spot for it in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Perhaps it’s appropriate then, that the inaugural Double Exposure: The Investigative Film Festival and Symposium would make its home in Washington, D.C. The festival, put on by the nonprofit investigative news organization 100Reporters, gets underway Wednesday and runs through Friday at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in downtown D.C. It features a lineup of documentary and fiction films, as well as panels and symposiums, that kicks off with the D.C. premiere of “Spotlight,” director Tom McCarthy’s retelling of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation of the Catholic Church’s cover-up of sexual abuse.  

McCarthy, who played flawed reporter Scott Templeton in the HBO series “The Wire,” will be on hand Wednesday night after the premiere of “Spotlight” for a post-screening discussion with screenwriter Josh Singer and members of the Globe team that will be moderated by “Wire” creator and former Baltimore Sun investigative reporter David Simon.