The documentary will be an adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book,The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy –an examination of Trump’s failure to effectively staff three major government departments when he was elected.
The Obamas Go to Hollywood: 7 Series and Documentaries on Netflix
In what may be a global first, we have the former president of the United States producing a movie about the current President of the United States… on Netflix.
Michael Lewis’ book won plaudits for revealing the tenuous threads currently holding together the U.S government. A situation worsened, according to Lewis, by Donald Trump’s failure to attract qualified people to fill prominent government positions.
Examining three major government departments – the Department of Energy, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Commerce Department – Lewis points out the lack of experience in Trump’s staff. He writes:
“Into USDA jobs, the Trump team had inserted a long-haul truck driver, a clerk at AT&T, a gas-company meter reader, a country-club cabana attendant, a Republican National Committee intern, and the owner of a scented-candle company, with skills like ‘pleasant demeanor’ listed in their resumes. In many cases the new appointees demonstrated little to no experience with federal policy, let alone deep roots in agriculture.”
The Frederick Douglass film is expected to be released first on Netflix, with the remaining projects set for release over the next couple of years.
A Fine Line Between Propaganda and Entertainment
Barack and Michelle Obama signed a development deal with Netflix in 2018. One year on and we finally get a look at what the would-be producers have in the pipeline. Among the projects are a feature film on slavery reformer Frederick Douglass; a class-struggle sitcom set in post-World War 2 New York; and a show for preschoolers titledListen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents.
A former politician getting into the movie business should be enough to ring anyone’s alarm bells. We’ve seen examples of this before with Al Gore’s eco-horror movie,An Inconvenient Truth. Usually political rhetoric takes pride of place over anything more artistic in such ventures.
Yet former First Lady Michelle Obama said Higher Ground Productions’ line-up of projects on Netflix contained something for everyone:
“We love this slate because it spans so many different interests and experiences, yet it’s all woven together with stories that are relevant to our daily lives. We think there’s something here for everyone — moms and dads, curious kids, and anyone simply looking for an engaging, uplifting watch at the end of a busy day.”
The Obamas recently announced an executive team for their production company. Joint co-heads will be Tonia Davis, and Priya Swaminathan – a democratic social activist. Joining them is Qadriyyah “Q” Shamsid-Deen as creative executive. Barack Obama announced the team in February 2019, saying:
“With Higher Ground Productions, we hope to bring people together around common values and uncommon stories—and Priya, Tonia and Q are precisely the people to bring that vision to life.”
About The Author
Freelance writer who avoided politics for as long as possible before it became unavoidable. Currently covering the cryptocurrency beat and finding interesting crossover points between it and the broader culture. Some time screenwriter with one short film under my belt and another in production. Hollywood has changed since the days when I fell in love with it, but you can still find glimpses of that old magic in the independent scene.