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ALL THE KING'S MEN

About The Production
Making a screen version of All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren's 1946 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, one that would be truly faithful to the book, has long been a cherished dream of James Carville.

Despite his electrifying appearance in the Academy Award®-nominated documentary The War Room — the story of Bill Clinton's successful first campaign for the Presidency — Carville is not someone normally associated with the movie business. He's much better known as one of America's most famous political consultants and pundits, and as a host of CNN's "Crossfire.” But Carville has, in fact, appeared in two movies — Milos Forman's The People vs. Larry Flynt and Todd Phillip's Old School — and also co-starred with his wife, Mary Matalin, in the HBO drama series "K Street.” Over the years, Carville has crossed paths with filmmakers, and when the occasion called for it (and sometimes even when it didn't, he says), he was very vocal about his passion for Warren's novel and how deeply he wanted to see it filmed authentically.

"People would listen,” Carville says, "and they'd always say to me, ‘This book has never been more relevant than it is today.' But I'd never agree with them. I'd say, ‘It's such a classic that there's never been a time when it wasn't relevant.' People's reactions, though, just show how everyone who reads it is excited by it.” When he was performing a cameo in Old School, he started talking about his driving passion for All the King's Men to the director Todd Phillips and his associate, Scott Budnick. "Budnick's reaction was electric. He said, ‘Man, that's a great idea,'” according to Carville, "and boom boom boom … two seconds later he was discussing it with David Thwaites, an executive at Phoenix Pictures, and with Mike Medavoy, the head of Phoenix, whom I actually knew from the 1992 Presidential campaign.”

Medavoy, who has been associated with some of the most distinguished and successful Hollywood features over the past three decades, had long been aware of the novel and its potential to be a great film. What excited Medavoy even more than its politics was the very human nature of the story. "All the King's Men uses politics as a framework,” he contends. "But it's really a story about life, a story about all of us. We're all capable of corruption, we're all capable of love, we're all capable of hatred and betrayal — all the things that have driven man since the dawn of time. The book is about human nature, about imperfect people who are neither good nor bad but who fall somewhere in between, who start off with good intentions but become compromised by power, with tragic results.”

Adds executive producer David Thwaites: "The themes that run through All the King's Men — like love, jealousy and betrayal — are universal. There is something timeless about the loss of love, the betrayal of friends and discovering who you are.”

When producer Ken Lemberger first joined the project, he relates, "I reread the book and was struck by its acute relevance to one of the great debates of our time, or any time: What is good and what is evil? Today, we are surrounded by politicians and social commentators labeling various activities and groups as ‘good' or ‘evil.' Warren's great work reminds us that this is not an easy, or even a useful, distinction to make, that most men and institutions are a complex blend of both. Our rush to convenient or comfortable labeling does not describe the world as it really is. It was a powerful commentary on the social and political issues that confront us at the moment.”

Following his meeting with Carville and Thwaites, "The next phone call I made,” Medavoy explains, "was to Steve Zaillian, one of the very best writers working in Hollywood today. He also directed two terrific films, Searching for Bobby Fischer and A Civil Action. Steve seemed to b

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