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Wag the Dog

• Director: Barry Levinson
• Writer: Larry Beinhart, Hilary Henkin, David Mamet
• Release Date: 17 December 1997 (USA)
• MPAA Rating: Rated R for language.
• Genre: Comedy | Drama
• Runtime: 97 min.
• Box Office #s: Here

Cast Highlights
• Dustin Hoffman
• Robert De Niro
• Anne Heche

After being caught in a scandalous situation days before the election, the president does not seem to have much of a chance of being re-elected. One of his advisers contacts a top Hollywood producer in order to manufacture a war in Albania that the president can heroically end, all through mass media.

From the Gallery

Trailer

Trivia

  • After this film started production and before its release, US President Bill Clinton became involved in a sex scandal and threatened military action against Iraq.
  • Dustin Hoffman based his character of Stanley Motss on Hollywood producer Robert Evans.
  • The political talk show at the end of the film lists its phone number as 1-(800)-555-0199. This number is also Lester Burnham’s office number in the film American Beauty (1999) as well as Lowell Bergman’s fax number in the film The Insider (1999)
  • The character of Winifred Ames was originally written for a man.
  • The talk show phone number, (800) 555-0199, is common to many films and television shows because this is the only number that has been reserved by the phone company as an allowable “fake” 800 number for media usage.
  • Conrad’s line, “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow,” is a quote from WWII General George S. Patton.
  • The scene in which shoes laced together are hanging from telephone and electric wires was shot on East Capitol Street a few blocks behind the U.S. Capitol. The production crew left several pairs of shoes behind and they remained hanging on the wires for years.
  • In the funeral scene, soldiers in the military band are played by members of the Riverside Community College marching band.
  • The name of Schumann’s medication, “Prozalium”, is a combination of Prozac and Valium.
  • “Why change horses midstream?” was originally a campaign slogan for Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
  • Both Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman did the film for no upfront salary. Hoffman and Barry Levinson did this movie while on a break from doing Sphere (1998).
  • During the filming of Wag the Dog (1997) Dustin Hoffman, his co-star Robert De Niro and director Barry Levinson had an impromptu meeting with President ‘Bill Clinton’ at a Washington hotel. “So what’s this movie about?” Clinton asked De Niro. De Niro looked over to Levinson, hoping he would answer the question. Levinson, in turn, looked over to Hoffman. Hoffman, realizing there was no one else to pass the buck to, is quoted as saying, “So I just started to tap dance. I can’t even remember what I said.”

Quotes

Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: You can’t tell anyone about this.
Tracy Lime: It is like a union thing?

Tracy Lime: What would they do to me if I did tell someone about this?
Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: They could come to your house in the middle of the night and kill you.