Warren Beatty admits he's a "control freak," an actor, director and producer who weighs every detail of the movies he makes. Last week he was agonizing over the first draft of his newest script--the one about his possible real-life plunge into politics. In his Mediterranean villa atop Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, he worked on an op-ed piece about the evils of money in politics, the economic disparities in American life--and why he just might run for president to "shine a flashlight" on both. For each statistic he wanted backup: magazine articles weren't enough; he wanted to see the government studies. There's a way to come into a room and be invisible, he tells friends, and a way to come in and dominate it. He wanted to do the latter--but not by falling flat on his face.
At first it seemed laughable: an actor who played Dick Tracy now posing as the James Madison of Mulholland Drive. But Beatty is a serious man, a lifelong liberal and campaign kibitzer. He knows that fame is the iron ore of the age of celebrity. Once you had to win a war--say the Civil War or World War II--to be famous in a politically potent way. Jesse Ventura proved that you just have to be famous.
To advise Beatty on using what he calls his "gift of fame," there is an eclectic cabinet of obstreperous sorts who think outside the usual political boxes. …