George H.W. Bush 'emotional' over documentary

Kris Connor for Motion Picture Association of America

George H.W. Bush was “very emotional” after viewing the soon-to-debut documentary about him, “41 on 41,” for the first time. But a producer and former Bush staffer says she was initially worried that the former president was emotional “for the wrong reasons.”

“He had told me originally that he was appropriately horrified at this whole idea of 41 people talking about him as we all would be if someone had 41 people talking about any one of us,” said Mary Kate Cary, “41’s” executive producer and a former White House speechwriter.

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But it turns out there was no cause for concern after all.

“When he finally could speak, he said in a sort of Lou Gehrig way, ‘I feel like the luckiest guy on Earth. I have the best friends in the world.’ It was very sweet. He’s happy.”

The Hill caught up with Cary at an advance screening Wednesday night at the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) downtown headquarters, hosted by the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation and the MPAA. The doc details the life and character of the ex-commander in chief through the eyes of 41 storytellers, including former President Clinton, Tom Brokaw, President Obama, golfer Arnold Palmer, and comedian Dana Carvey, among others. It premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. (EST) on CNN.

The Bush family participated in the film and it was screened for them this week at their home in Kennebunkport, Maine. “Mrs. Bush was calling out wisecracks,” Cary exclaimed.

“He was calling out names out to the screen, remembering people,” she said of the 41st president.

Cary also touched on her former boss’ newfound love of brightly colored feet warmers.

Bush — who celebrated his 90th birthday on Thursday — has made unique socks his signature accessory in recent years. Cary said of the toe décor: “It’s his way, in my mind, of saying ‘I’m not taking this sitting down. I’m going to be myself.’ He likes to say, ‘I’m not going to be an old guy sitting around drooling.’ I think it’s a great way to express himself.”