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PopPolitics: Jon Lovett Says Showtime Project is a ‘Cautionary Tale’ About Partisan Divide (Listen)

Jon Lovett
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Jon Lovett, the former White House speechwriter who is now a writer-producer, describes his latest project as a “cautionary tale” about what happens when a presidential election descends into such partisan rancor that the country is on the brink of civil war.

Lovett is developing the series called “Anthem” for Showtime, and even though he says he isn’t naturally pessimistic, the show certainly is, carrying today’s divides to the extreme. “There’s only so much mistrust we can take before things get much worse,” he tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS.

Lovett, who was a producer on “The Newsroom” and executive producer of “1600 Penn,” says he was inspired in part to get into politics by “The West Wing,” and even though he certainly saw that idealism when he worked on campaigns and in the Obama White House, he also saw a “deep reservoir of mistrust and narcissism and partisanship that I found fascinating. And it is getting worse, and the more I thought about that, the more I want to find a way to explore that in a drama.”

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Lovett compares working in Washington to working in Los Angeles — and finds big differences. For one, Hollywood figures can’t seem to stop with the ritual of hugging.

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Lovett talks about President Obama’s keen sense of humor, noting that he “does not seem to have a problem with pushing the boundaries of what kind of jokes a president can tell.” Nevertheless, he says politicians in general are more cautious about humor, in part because of an “outrage bubble” that is at the ready to pounce at spontaneous moments.

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Variety‘s David Cohen and U.S. News’ Nikki Schwab talk about the influence of John Oliver of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” and why Hollywood is likely to take their Oscar campaigns to Washington.

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Morten Tyldum, director of “The Imitation Game,” says he doesn’t understand a critique that the movie should have depicted Alan Turing’s sex life, as if to further emphasize that he was a gay man. The movie does delve into Turing’s sexuality, but it is essentially a mystery, he says, and they wouldn’t have put a “random sex scene” in if Turing were a heterosexual.

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Tyldum says plenty of Turing’s life still remains a mystery, in part because many files are still classified and others were destroyed. He would like to know more about Turing’s role with MI6, including a meeting he had with Ian Fleming, who went on to create James Bond.

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PopPolitics airs Thursdays at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel 124. It also is rebroadcast and available on demand.