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`Wag the Dog': No Bark, No Bite
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Motion pictures
Author: Howe, Desson
Date: Jan 2, 1998
Start Page: N.29
Section: WEEKEND

IN "WAG the Dog," a blithely unfunny, low-budget comedy from director Barry Levinson, the American president (the most featured character in the movies lately) has been accused of sexual misconduct on the eve of his intended reelection. His political opponent, Senator Neal (Craig T. Nelson), is pressing the president to face the music. What does he do? He calls spin doctor Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro), a master of political damage control.

Brean lands with his feet running. With presidential aide Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) at his beck and call, and carte blanche authority, he recruits Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman), a veteran film producer with high-concept smarts and outrageous chutzpah. Motss enlists someone he calls the Fad King (Denis Leary) who can turn almost any idea into a merchandising tie-in, and songwriter Johnny Green (Willie Nelson), who can coin a pop anthem from a mere suggestion. The spin control team goes to work.

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