New Alexandra Pelosi documentary brings together GOP, Dem members
Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), really went into the lion’s den for her latest documentary on America’s great documents.
“I filmed [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)] at the NRSC,” Pelosi says with a chuckle.
Pelosi, a former journalist, filmed several interviews for the upcoming HBO special “The Words That Built America” at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington.
The David McCullough-narrated doc, which premieres July 4 at 7 p.m., features all six living presidents, six vice presidents, an astonishing number of political VIPs and lawmakers, and a who’s who of Hollywood (including Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Caitlyn Jenner, Rosie O’Donnell, Morgan Freeman and Robert Redford). It also includes journalists reciting the words of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
Citing rules about filming in the Capitol, McConnell extended the invite to film at the home base for the campaign committee for Senate Republicans, Pelosi says.
“I’m like, ‘Wait, with my last name you’re inviting me to work at the NRSC?’ ” Pelosi, 46, recalls replying. “So we did.”
“And Mitch McConnell’s like, ‘Alexandra, I bet you never thought you’d be working in a place like this,’ ” she says.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, never did. But that’s me. I’m the uniter. The ambassador of hope right here,” the fast-talking Manhattan resident jokes.
“I had to laugh, because I was sitting in [Sen. Cory Gardner’s (R-Colo.)] office reading his script about [how] the Pelosi agenda will destroy America,” Pelosi, the woman behind the 2003 Emmy Award-winning documentary “Journeys With George,” told ITK in a recent phone interview.
“It’s very funny to me. There was so much deep irony to the whole thing.”
The agenda for the project, Pelosi says, was “to bring people together, not to divide.”
Yet with politics in such a polarized state, how did Pelosi finagle more than 50 senators, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, President Trump and scores of other personalities from across the political spectrum to participate?
“I don’t think there’s one piece of paper that exists on the planet that you could get 50 senators to read. I don’t think you could get them to read the ingredients of the sandwich in the Senate cafeteria. They would fight over that, even,” Pelosi cracks.
“All credit is due to the Constitution — the only document that every living politician would agree to read,” she says.
Well, almost every politician.
Pelosi says she made an elevator pitch — literally, in a crowded Senate elevator in the Capitol — to Sen. Marco Rubio to participate, but was rejected by the Florida Republican. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also declined through their offices to appear in the project, she says.
Those who did agree to join in on the reading picked the passages they recite on camera.
But when audiences are used to action-packed summer blockbusters filled with superheroes and eye-popping explosions, the question is whether they’ll really tune in next Tuesday for a reading of America’s founding documents.
Pelosi says the Independence Day premiere date for the film — which will also be available to non-HBO subscribers on the premium cable network’s website and YouTube channel — will be helpful.
“I just have to get them to flip the remote on a day there’s nothing on TV.”
Pelosi then comes up with an analogy that might make buttoned-up Washington blush: “When they make the late-night pornographic adult programming, nobody admits they ever watched it.”
“This is the show that everyone is going to say they watched,” she says with a laugh, “whether they do or not.”