PopPolitics: The Clinton-Inspired Humor of ‘Veep’ (Listen)

"Veep" Emmy Race Comedy Series
Courtesy of HBO

Also: How Hollywood Will Help Hillary; Why 'Nerd Prom' Is D.C.'s Biggest Week

Armando Iannucci, who recently announced that he will be leaving “Veep” after its fourth season ends on HBO, teased the season finale as ending with a “spectacular problem.”

Iannucci says he’s planning to pursue movie projects, and has been talking with Sony about a sci-fi comedy, as well as to HBO about another project. David Mandel will succeed him as showrunner.

“I kind of like the idea of bequeathing my successor a spectacular problem,” Iannucci quips to Variety’sPopPolitics” on SiriusXM.

This season the dynamics of the show changed with Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) elevated to the presidency while also running for a new term. Iannucci says that it’s probably “inevitable” that there will be comparisons made between Meyer and Hillary Clinton, but that Meyer really has evolved into her own person.

“We weren’t consciously aping Hillary when we wrote Selina,” he says. “It’s inevitable now I suppose that Hillary is campaigning as Selina is president that there will be comparisons made. We have certainly taken aspects of the Clinton world in Selina. Selina’s daughter is becoming a creature of politics, and I have certainly asked Sarah Sutherland, who plays Catherine, to have a look at footage of Chelsea doing public stuff. And so she’s watching the body language. And there’s bits of Al Gore, and there’s bits of Biden and there’s bits of Cheney in Selina. And there’s bits of various presidents as well. And in the end she’s her own thing.”

The series gets much of its humor from the obsessive focus on “optics,” like Selina’s team spending a fortune on a beer crate she can sit on to act more like an average joe, or her first speech as president overshadowed by the media focus on a pair of squeaky shoes that sounded as she walked to the lectern.

Iannucci already sees some humor in 2016, like the van that Clinton used to get to Iowa this week. “There’s actually the Scooby bus, which actually looks kind of threatening — black,” he says.

There’s another Clinton moment that inspired the show. In the season premiere, Meyer gives an address to a joint session of Congress, but she finds blank passages on the Teleprompter. A similar situation happened to Bill Clinton early in his term. Iannucci says former vice president Al Gore mentioned the incident that gave them the idea.

Listen below:

The show this season also satirizes the influence of money in politics, in particular the revolving door from government to much higher-paying jobs in lobbying. Iannucci sees this as a corrosive force in American politics.

“You keep chipping away at bits of democracy if you are saying what counts is not what voters think but what business thinks,” he says.

Iannucci says that he finds his view of money in politics in sync with Elizabeth Warren. She’s said that she is not running, even though she has been mentioned as a presidential prospect.

As for the 2016 contenders, Iannucci demurred, although he said, “Jeb Bush I find I don’t quite get.”

Listen below:

The show has had a knack for mirroring real-life events. After the Teleprompter episode was shot, Sarah Palin experienced a similar problem while giving a speech, and her attempts to improvise were incoherent.

Meyer will travel this season to Tehran — on the heels of the real-life framework for an agreement with Iran to control its nuclear program.

“I try to make a couple of guesstimates as to where reality might be when the show goes out,” Iannucci said.

Listen below:

Celebrities, media executives and political leaders will fill the Washington Hilton on April 25 for the annual White House Correspondents Assn. dinner — one of the few events covered both by C-SPAN and “Entertainment Tonight.”

In his new documentary “Nerd Prom,” Patrick Gavin takes a look at how a small dinner turned into a weekend of cocktail parties, nightclub bashes and marketing opportunities.

Listen below:

The purpose of the WHCA is to fight for better access for journalists on the White House beat. Gavin says that goal has gotten lost in the weekend glitz — to the point where even he had trouble getting access to some of the parties for his documentary.

Listen below:

Nikki Schwab of U.S. News and Mary Murphy of USC talk about the coverage of Hillary Clinton’s campaign launch, and how she can best draw on her support from Hollywood.

Listen below:

“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel 124.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Biz News from Variety