Hollywood on the Potomac
LBJ was ‘in the house’ at the Washington, DC private screening of Rob Reiner’s “LBJ” at The National Archives – a venue steeped in history and most befitting a former President. Actor Woody Harrelson, who plays the 36th President of The United States, seemed elated to be in the midst of countless real former Presidential assistants as he mixed and mingled with Lynda Bird Johnson and her family as well as many of LBJ’s former staff and colleagues including his Chief of Protocol Ambassador Lloyd Hand. “I thought it was fantastic,” Hand told us. “I saw the play in New York and I saw the HBO movie. I take nothing away from Bryan Cranston – a great director – but this captured more of LBJ than any portrayal I’ve seen.”
“I just told Woody that I was honored and privileged to work for LBJ when he was majority leader, Vice President and President. It must have been a very, very challenging role for him; but he portrayed more of him, more of his personality. It’s all true: LBJ was very tough and all of that, but he also had a soft side and they brought that out,” added Hand. “You could see how concerned President Johnson was about not being liked and all of that. I saw moments like that, but he had it in him – the power and the ability – to acquire and use the power he got. The other key thing about the President was his timing. He knew when the time was right to push something and he took it. Robert Caro said that in one of his books (Means of Ascent). It was Johnson who pulled open the curtains of the voting booth. Johnson changed the course of history. Whether you like him, or you don’t like him, he did. Johnson passed many pieces of legislation and all of them were very important: The Civil Rights Act, The Voting Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid, The Housing Act, Conservation, The National Endowment of the Arts and more. Those are the more popular ones, but he did more things than people ever realize.”
“Our aim is to redefine fact-based storytelling,” said Tim Pastore, President of Original Programming & Production for National Geographic Channel at the screening of their upcoming miniseries, MARS. The innovative series tackles storytelling in whole new way by combining a fictional story of the first manned mission to Mars with documentary style interviews to explain the science of reasoning of what is happening in the story. The story is set in 2033 and is based on the book “How We’ll Live on Mars” by Stephen Patranek; examining the scientific, logistical and cultural challenges of a mission to the red planet. The interviews offer a throwback to present year and speak to the best and brightest minds who are tackling a Mars mission, like Elon Musk, author Andy Weir and former Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell.
The mix of drama and documentary blurs fiction and reality to create a unique product unlike any that has been made before. The premise driving the whole project, both in real life and in the series is that Mars is the next frontier for mankind, both to quench our curiosity and to ensure our survival as a species.
But who would really want to go Mars? Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System, after Mercury. Visually, it’s a big red ball in the sky. Ben Cotton, who plays Mission Commander Ben Sawyer, told Hollywood on the Potomac he would probably have second thoughts. “It depends on how you look at it, I suppose. If you look at it from the perspective of history, if we become an interplanetary species we ensure the future of humanity then that might be inspiration enough to go, ‘Okay, I’m doing something bigger than myself.’ But yeah, I might rather be in a bar. Last I heard, they aren’t filming anything in Mars and I like acting.”
“I am a conservation photographer, but I rarely photograph the plants and animals and landscapes people think of when they think of the environmental movement. My focus has always been on the people and the local communities, both because it’s right but also because it’s also practical,” photojournalist Jason Houston told Hollywood on the Potomac. Houston was the honored guest at his installation at RARE headquarters in Arlington, Virginia depicting daily life in two very different but like-minded communities in the Philippines and Colombia. Houston was commissioned by RARE to use photography and video to tell the immersive story of pioneering farmers and fishers who are introducing sustainable resource management practices to support both their families as well as the resources of the land and sea.