And a dozen years later, in Barry Levinson's "Wag the Dog," De Niro reached a low-key comic peak as a presidential advisor named Brean. (His humor comes across even in the trailer, above, especially when he plays off Dustin Hoffman's wily Hollywood producer.) If Jerry Seinfeld is the comedian of "nothing," De Niro's Brean in "Wag the Dog" is the kingpin of nothing. He urges clients to deny controversies that don't exist, and then, when they've been fabricated, 'fess up to them. De Niro transforms Brean's combination of observation and caginess into a treasure-trove of comic surprises, as well as a font of evil wisdom. In "Wag the Dog," De Niro's understated knowingness envelops all the people around him like a ticklish existential blob, whether they're from the CIA or CAA. He sits back and assumes a browsing position when he's actually speed-reading every situation.