Picks and Pans Review: Spotlight On...

UPDATED 05/05/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/05/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT

>Hollywood and the White House

HITTING BELOW THE BELTWAY

BEFORE AND AFTER MR. SMITH WENT to Washington in 1939, filmmakers enjoyed portraying D.C. as the District of Corruption. Hollywood's latest take on Washington—in a batch of recent and upcoming thrillers—goes further than ever, presenting the White House as a hotbed of kinky sex and crime. Maybe it's because so many movie stars have been bunking in the Lincoln Bedroom. Another theory: professional jealousy. "It's the only town that has more power and less scruples" than Hollywood, says screenwriter Jonathan Lemkin.

In last January's Shadow Conspiracy, Charlie Sheen uncovered a plot within the White House to assassinate the President. Murder at 1600, the latest political potboiler, has Wesley Snipes concerned about a covered-up homicide at the famous address. Later on comes Wag the Dog, starring Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman as handlers of a President in Dutch over molesting a Girl Scout. Is nothing sacred? Certainly not Sacred Cows, a script about a President caught having his way with cattle that has made the studio rounds.

"Americans have come to believe all kinds of stuff could happen and does happen" in the White House, says author David Baldacci, whose best-selling novel Executive Power was released last February as Absolute Power, starring Gene Hackman as a kinky President who kills his young mistress during rough sex.

What does President Clinton, an avid filmgoer, think of this trend? "The President would like to see more movies where the government is portrayed as an agent of positive, progressive force," says a White House spokeswoman. Mr. Clinton will probably want to schedule a screening of this summer's Air Force One, starring Harrison Ford as a handsome, brave and daring President who saves the First Family from terrorists.

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