American Experience (2020): S32E05 – George W. Bush, Part 02


Introduction

American Experience, originally titled ‘The American Experience’, is an American television programme and a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary series created by Peter McGhee.

Outline

George W. Bush is a 2020 two-part biographical television film about former United States President George W. Bush. Produced by PBS for the American Experience documentary program, it recounts Bush’s life from his childhood up to the end of his two-term presidency in 2008. Directed by Jamila Ephron and written by Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance, the film aired on PBS in two parts on 04 and 05 May 2020.

Part 01 here.

Interviewees

  • Peter Baker.
  • Dan Bartlett.
  • Joshua Bolten.
  • Elisabeth Bumiller.
  • Andy Card.
  • Richard Clarke.
  • Ari Fleischer.
  • David Frum.
  • Barton Gellman.
  • Clay Johnson.
  • Bill Minutaglio.
  • Michael Morell.
  • General David Petraeus.
  • George Packer.
  • Martha Raddatz.
  • Eugene Robinson.
  • Karl Rove.
  • Wayne Slater.
  • Ron Suskind.
  • Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson.
  • Lawrence Wright.
  • Robin Wright.

Production

On 29 July 2019, PBS announced that American Experience will produce a two-part biographical film about former President George W. Bush to be released in Spring 2020. The film was then titled W, with Barak Goodman as writer, producer, and director; Goodman previously wrote and directed the 2012 film on Bill Clinton. By January 2020, Jamila Ephron was revealed to have since become part of the project.

On 14 April 2020, PBS revealed that the film will premiere the next month on 04 and 05 May. In regard to the inclusion of Ari Fleischer and Andrew Card, both of whom have been documented to give lies during the Bush administration, Goodman explained that “I think that what this administration, with some exceptions, underwent was a process of self-delusion. Not that they set out to lie to the American people, they lied to themselves”, adding that “[t]he fact is, these were the guys who were there.”

Critical Response

Brian Lowry of CNN gave George W. Bush a negative review, criticising its omission of some significant details in Bush’s life and presidency such as the controversy toward his National Guard service and Karl Rove’s alleged “smear tactics” during the 2000 primary of the Republican Party, in addition to the film’s decision not to cover his post-presidency. Lowry added that the film is also unsuccessful in adding further insight into Bush’s character other than what is already known about him. Scott D. Pierce of The Salt Lake Tribune on the other hand assessed the film to be “worth watching” for its direct and fair documentation of Bush’s life.

American Experience Series

You can find a full index and overview of the American Experience Series here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 04 and 05 May 2020.
  • Running time: 60 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

YouTube Link

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