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Sigourney Weaver and politics

August 12, 2012
By KATHRYN SPIRA , The Leader Herald

I'm taking a break from Emmy nomination speculation to talk about the original limited series from USA TV called "Political Animals."?Some people may dispute the adjective "original" in that Sigourney?Weaver's character appears to mirror the real-life path of Hillary?Clinton.

And who would have guessed they would see Weaver in a TV?series, let alone on cable??But the star of "Avatar," "Ghostbusters" and the "Aliens" franchise?has stated she loves the role and neither tries to imitate Clinton nor?has she ever met her.?

I guess you could say I had a fleeting association with Weaver when I?worked as an extra in the original "Ghostbusters," but since I was?lost in the crowd racing down Central Park West in New York City from the imaginary, giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, that association is mostly in my own memory, not on film.?

However, Weaver was also a regular at Columbus Restaurant, when I?worked there waiting tables at Columbus Avenue and 74th Street in the?city, so I have spoken to her and found her to be engaging, funny and?kind, unlike the character she plays on "Political Animals."?

The series chronicles the life of a onetime first lady Elaine Barrish?(Hammond) who is still married to the former president and now?pursuing aspirations of becoming president herself while in the office?of secretary of state. Now, who does that sound like??

I especially like the role of Weaver's character's mother, played by?Ellen Burstyn, and the role of Weaver's husband, played by Ciaran Hinds as "Bud" Hammond, a former president with a roving eye (also not?to be confused with Bill Clinton. Yeah, right.)?

For those who would compare the series with the popular "West Wing"?series, I'd say "West Wing" is more focused on how government works?behind the scenes, while here the focus is on family and individuals?in the high-pressure crucible of the White House.?The Hammonds' twin sons portray "good son, bad son" with one as chief of staff and the other an openly gay drug user who is having an?affair with a married senator.

The Susan Berg character played by Carla Cugino is a journalist who becomes an unlikely ally of Weaver's character to put the focus on the media surrounding the politics.?While Berg started looking for dirt, she becomes an instrument for a?more well-rounded picture of politics that can work for good as well?as evil.

The series could be very soap-opera-like, but instead it is more?a drama of family stresses and interactions in the political spotlight?with all the pressures that come in that arena.?The six-part series is aired Sundays at 10 p.m., and you can see previous episodes on if you'd like to tune in?belatedly.

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. For more information, see her website,



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