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Obama Enlists Hanks, Top Hollywood Talent for Campaign Video

President Barack Obama. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg
President Barack Obama. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

March 16 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama’s campaign rolled out a $345,000 film production for supporters as the president pivots more directly toward his 2012 re-election bid.

The campaign pulled in Hollywood support to provide Oscar-caliber talent for the 17-minute film, with direction by Davis Guggenheim and narration by Tom Hanks.

Using interviews with former administration officials, Obama advisers and Democratic Party leaders, the film that debuted last night is a retrospective on Obama’s first three years in office that seeks to portray him as a decisive leader.

With appearances by Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s first chief of staff, and Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, about a quarter of the running time is spent on the deteriorating state of the economy at the time Obama took office.

Interviews, news footage and still photos are linked by Hanks’s dramatic narration.

“Not since the days of Franklin Roosevelt had so much fallen on the shoulders of one president,” Hanks says as the film transitions into the administration’s responses.

The campaign said it’s holding 300 screenings at homes and at openings of offices and will be followed by a broadcast on the web with chief political strategist David Axelrod. The film was released ahead of time to the media.

Hollywood ‘Fiction’

Republican strategist Ron Bonjean called the project “fiction” that’s “brought to you by Hollywood.”

“Hollywood is trying to fictionalize the truth about what’s happened the last few years with President Obama,” Bonjean said in an interview. “But it’s missing the millions of Americans who aren’t feeling any better about the economy or job creation or gasoline prices.”

Obama’s advisers are moving to generate enthusiasm among supporters heading into what they say will probably be a close election in November.

Biden set out yesterday on what his office billed as the first official event of the campaign at a union hall in Toledo, Ohio. The vice president criticized Obama’s Republican rivals by name and said in the coming weeks he will lay the “clear, stark differences between us and our opponents.”

Obama, speaking at about the same time on energy policy in Largo, Maryland, refrained from naming anyone when he criticized “professional politicians, a lot of the folks who are running for a certain office” for being “stuck in the past” with their proposals.

Obama’s re-election campaign spent $162,834 on the film last month, and $182,158 in 2011, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Guggenheim, who directed “Waiting for Superman,” a documentary about the U.S. education system, won an Oscar in 2006 for “An Inconvenient Truth,” which chronicled former Vice President Al Gore’s drive to raise awareness about climate change. He also directed a biographical film about Obama for the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

Hanks, who was among the guests at the White House for this week’s state dinner honoring U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, has been an Obama supporter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hans Nichols in Washington at hnichols2@bloomberg.net Julianna Goldman in Washington at jgoldman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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