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Political movies hit the screen

Political movies hit the screen — Diane Keaton, Eddie Murphy, and Tom Hanks are all set to star in movies about the campaign trail

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Hollywood types love the campaign trail, and the studios are eager to cash in on the political version of the 1992 November sweeps. First up is HBO’s Running Mates, a romantic comedy starring Diane Keaton, which starts filming in March. Keaton plays a woman whose swinging past threatens to upset the future of her boyfriend, a presidential candidate.

Eddie Murphy’s Distinguished Gentleman begins filming in April. Described as a ”black Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” the movie takes the character through the political process via a romance with an altruistic female lobbyist.

And there are as many political films in development as there are Democratic presidential candidates. There’s Skirts and Zippers, possibly with Goldie Hawn and Michael Douglas, whose characters back different candidates to comic and romantic ends. The Passion of Richard Nixon, a biopic tracking the man from his early years through his 1968 presidential campaign, has attracted the interest of Tom Hanks. The Long Shot, a James Grady (Three Days of the Condor) script studying the world of the Secret Service during campaign time, can be expected in theaters before this November. Bob Roberts, due out this fall from Working Title Films, is the black-comic tale of a contemporary folksinger who launches a senatorial campaign, with Tim Robbins, who also wrote and directed it, in the lead.

On a lighter note, Universal’s Campaign will focus on the volunteers and Young Turks of a candidate’s election machine. Written by former Washington Post reporter Paul Attanasio, Campaign is said to be evolving into an Animal House on the hustings.

And just to stretch a little, Arnold Schwarzenegger may play the title role in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. The loose remake of the ’36 Capra classic, to be directed by Jerry Zucker (Ghost), involves a man who inherits a fortune, goes to the big city, sees the woeful economic plight of the downtrodden, and gives them his money. Sounds like presidential material.