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HBO's 'Special Relationship' - Feast for Clinton foes

I spent Thursday and Friday locked up on a Sunday story about Kate Gosselin's new show, "Kate Plus 8," and the growing scrutiny of the use of kids on reality TV. You can read it here. I mention the story, because one of the things I didn't get to as a result of closing it was a proper preview of "Special Relationship," a wicked, insider look from the British point of view at Tony Blair's relationship with Bill Clinton -- and then George W. Bush.

Headline: Beyond the Monica Lewinsky problems, Clinton looks like a big, fat, self-important liar who can't keep his hands out of the refrigerator. Not a pretty picture -- unless you are part of that vast right-wing conspiracy Hillary blamed her husband's troubles on.

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As for Hillary Clinton, she's played wonderfully by Hope Davis. She played as cold, self-absorbed, and every bit as arrogant as her right-wing critics would have the world believe. If this film is any barometer, that liberal blah-blah-blah about how history will put the Lewinsky stuff in context and Bill Clinton will be remembered as giant isn't quite working out that way. The only things giant about Clinton in this telling are his ego and appetite for food.

Dennis Quaid makes you forget he's an actor playing Clinton after a while -- and you come to believe you are seeing the real failed president in the flesh -- or the video image of him anyway.

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Of course, the film is mostly about Blair -- Clinton's just there as a foil. In fact, it is the third in screenwriter Peter Morgan's Blair trilogy. The other two are HBO's "The Deal" and the feature film, "The Queen." As always, Michael Sheen does his superb interpretation of Blair, with Helen McCrory as wife, Cherie.

The film premieres Saturday night at 9, with replays through June 16 on HBO and HBO2.

If you have HBO, don't miss it. If you don't have HBO, look for the DVD in coming weeks.

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