“How Washington Really Works: The Life and Times of Charlie Peters”
a FILM about a MAN , a MAGAZINE, and the MEDIA
“How Washington Really Works: The Life and Times of Charlie Peters,” a feature-length documentary film, will explore an American life – the life of a journalist, founding editor of The Washington Monthly, writer and public intellectual who has made a significant mark on American politics and continues to do so fifty years after he started. The documentary will also explore the culture and dysfunction of Washington, D.C., using the framework Charlie Peters designed and developed – through five printings – of his seminal book How Washington Really Works and his regular magazine column, “Tilting at Windmills.”
The documentary will be divided into three parts using interviews, archival and contemporary television footage, and graphics:
The Prologue will outline the contemporary political narrative that “government doesn’t work,” or that any aspect of government is suspect (i.e., “big government”), a view countered by Charlie Peters’ Washington Monthly, which has emphasized that government can be made more accessible and accountable if its real behavior is understood.
The Life and Times of a Public Man will show, via interviews, photos, and archival material, the life and times of Charlie Peters from his 1926 birth in West Virginia to the present, emphasizing his work in the newly-founded Peace Corps as the director of evaluation his successful effort to launch The Washington Monthly. This part will also explore two countervailing trends that occurred during Peters’ editorship: the rise of the New Right in the 1970s, which articulated an anti-government, anti-regulation narrative, and increasing mass media consolidation during the 1980s.
How Washington Really Works: Charlie Peters on Washington picks up from the first section of the documentary in which Peters outlines the “performance of make believe” in Washington. Using that theme, derived from his book How Washington Really Works, Peters examines the politics and cultures of the White House, Congress; the regulatory agencies, the Supreme Court, as well as the role of the Fourth Estate: the media, examining how “fake news” programs, such as Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” are accorded the same consideration as real news programs. .
FORMAT: DV; 60 to 70 minutes
PROJECTED RELEASE: Fall 2013
WRITER/PRODUCER/DIRECTOR: Norman Kelley
Consulting Producer: Adele Schmidt
Fiscal Sponsor: Understanding Government (Tax Status: 501 (c) (3))