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DICK

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There's no doubt that the saga of Watergate and the resulting downfall of President Richard Nixon remains one of this country's most captivating events

There's no doubt that the saga of Watergate and the resulting downfall of President Richard Nixon remains one of this country's most captivating events. It has fascinated historians and average citizens, including writer/director Andrew Fleming, for nearly 25 years. Fleming also had a fascination with the decade of the '70s, and when he and co-writer Sheryl Longin were talking about getting a couple of teenage girls from the 'me generation' into a bit of trouble, the basis for rewriting history was born.

"We had these two girls, Betsy and Arlene, and we had that great period of the '70s," remembers Fleming. "We were trying to figure out how to get them in trouble. Watergate seemed like the most trouble they could get themselves into, and everything just happened from there." Arlene Lorenzo and Betsy Jobs, while seemingly the total opposites of one another, are best friends, the kind of friends who can't be apart, who finish each other's sentences. Betsy's fun-loving, outgoing nature seems to be the perfect balancing point for Arlene's more subdued temperament.

"Of the two girls, Arlene is definitely the more socially and physically challenged," says Michelle Williams of her character. "She's sort of a geek, while Betsy is a little hipper, a little cooler. Arlene's created her own fantasy world because of her lack of a real one."

"Arlene's whole world is filled with drama and crisis," says Kirsten Dunst. "My character, Betsy, is constantly trying to bring her out of her shell but be totally supportive of her at the same time."

Part of Arlene's fantasy world is an obsession with pop star Bobby Sherman; her bedroom is a shrine to the teen sensation. Rushing down a dark stairwell from Arlene's Watergate apartment to beat a mail deadline for a "Win A Date With Bobby Sherman" contest, the girls literally run into the mysterious G. Gordon Liddy. Though they can't know it, they've just witnessed the beginning of the Watergate break-in and are now major players in a scandal that will rock the nation.

Arlene's fascination with teen singing stars will soon fade when, on a school field trip to the White House and through a chance encounter with the President's dog, Checkers, Arlene meets the man of her dreams, President Richard "Dick" Nixon. In Nixon, Arlene sees a strong, compassionate man who loves America and his dog, and that's all she needs to know to develop a crush that soon consumes her life. Down comes the Bobby Sherman shrine, up goes a monument to Dick.

"Arlene is very vulnerable, and she's somewhat alone in the world," states Andrew Fleming. "Here is the most powerful man in the free world, and he's kind to her. She finds it intoxicating."

"Arlene sees nothing wrong with this obsession," says Kirsten Dunst, "but my character Betsy thinks it's kind of gross. But Betsy supports her best friend and helps her through it all."

The President makes the girls official White House Dog walkers, and they begin to enjoy almost unlimited access to the White House and the President himself.

"The funny thing is that Betsy and Arlene don't even know what politics are," laughs Andrew Fleming. "They're delightfully oblivious to the strange and sinister events unfolding around them during their frequent visits."

As the weeks and months go by, though, Betsy and Arlene<

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