Magazine article Newsweek

Politics: The Struggle to Shape Kerry's Story

Magazine article Newsweek

Politics: The Struggle to Shape Kerry's Story

Article excerpt

Byline: Susannah Meadows

Renowned documentary filmmaker George Butler, whose "Pumping Iron" made Arnold Schwarzenegger a star, is now turning to John Kerry's story. A longtime friend, Butler is armed with 6,000 photographs of Kerry taken over a lifetime, footage of the young soldier in Vietnam and access to the people who know Kerry best. "I started taking pictures of him because I knew one day it would pay off," says Butler. He's out to make the definitive film about Kerry's life and how it was shaped by Vietnam--in time for a September theatrical release. But telling any story gets tricky when your subject is running for president. Though Butler unabashedly calls his film "pro-Kerry," he doesn't want to be seen as making propaganda. The campaign expects a sympathetic portrait.

In one interview for the film, according to two people who've seen it, Kerry's friend Adam Walinsky laments the candidate's loss of passion, saying he wishes Kerry would forget who he's been for the past 30 years and again be the man who bravely spoke out against a war he'd just fought in. For any documentarian, it's a killer quote. But then the Kerry people found out about it. "George knows what he's supposed to do," says Kerry adviser David Thorne, laughing. But his point was clear. "I don't think George wants to do anything that's going to hurt John in any way," adds Thorne, who is also a good friend of Butler's. Butler says, "When I screen the film for David before the final cut, if he makes reasonable objections, I would listen to him. …

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