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TCA Gets High-Level Press Spokesperson for Upcoming Hulu Doc
January 18, 2020  | By Roger Catlin  | 3 comments

PASADENA, Calif. — It takes a lot to fill the ballroom for extra early morning session on the 11th day of the TV Critics Press Association winter press tour. 

But the guest was the top vote-getter in 2016 Presidential election, who nevertheless lost the electoral college. Hillary Rodham Clinton already had a long history leading up to that race, from First Lady to U.S. senator to Secretary of State — enough to warrant a four-hour documentary for Hulu, Hillary, premiering March 6. 

Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were among the interview subjects, but Hillary Clinton herself sat for 35 hours for the documentary series by Nanette Burstein, so another half hour of taking questions at TCA Friday fairly zipped by.

Clinton’s presence meant some of the traditions of press tour — like the mass approach of reporters following the formal Q&A was not to happen. 

“And I was sort of looking forward to the scrum,” Clinton said. “Scrum away!”

Clinton said the documentary “did not start out as the film it ended up being.

“It really started out as maybe a campaign documentary because we had about 1,700 hours of behind-the-scenes footage,” Clinton said.

But she added that Burstein, (left, with Clinton) chosen by the Clinton team to make the film, had a different idea, saying, “‘Look, this is a bigger story.  It needs to be told.  Its part of the arc of women’s history, advancement, choices that are made.’”

So the film was expanded. “I’m not running for anything,” Clinton said. “I’m not in office. So I said, ‘Sure, why don’t we give it a try?’ And off we went.”

Burstein, whose previous subjects include producer Robert Evans and skater Tonya Harding, said she sought to expand the film’s scope to her full life story because “I felt it was so remarkably emblematic of our history over the last 40 years, particularly when it comes to women’s rights and the way that she has been the tip of the spear in various ways and how it overlapped with these various huge historical moments.” 

“I became a kind of Rorschach Test for women and women’s roles as soon as I burst onto the public scene when Bill was running for president,” Clinton said.  I’d lived more than 40 years before that, and I had no real understanding of what it meant to be thrust into this highest, brightest platform and try to live your life and kind of go along with what you’d always done.”

Part of the film resulted in a personal reckoning.

“There were a lot of humbling moments,” Clinton said. “One was the recognition that I have been often, in my view, obviously, mischaracterized, misperceived, and I have to bear a lot of the responsibility for that. 

“Whatever the combination of reasons might be, I certainly didn’t do a good enough job to break through a lot of the perceptions that were out there,” she said. “Perhaps I could have and should have found ways to better present myself or deal with some of the misperceptions were out there.”

And while she’s not running, she was of course asked about the current political scene.

“By the time this airs, it’ll be right in the thick of what’s called Super Tuesday,” she says. “Maybe by that time the field will have clarified, and we’ll have a better idea who’s likely to end up with enough delegates to be the nominee.”

And while she declined to endorse any one candidate, she advised Democrats to “try to vote for the person you think is most likely to win. Because at the end of the day, that is what will matter. And not just the popular vote,” she added, to some knowing laughter, “but the Electoral College, as we’ve learned.”

It can be discouraging to see what’s happened of the past few years, she said. “It wasn’t so long ago that we actually had a president where we didn’t have to worry every morning when we woke up about what was going to happen that day. Or what crazy tweet would threaten war or some other awful outcome.”

But she said the media had a role to play to establish baseline facts on which decisions are made, and she said there has to be a way to “ figure out how to have a more constructive relationship with social media.”

Clinton’s appearance at press tour came with a large phalanx of security and precautions. Hallways were ringed with security; elevators were cleared, barrooms were filled with talk of sightings over the days leading up to the session.

When one reporter refaced a question by saying “This is a total thrill for us after two weeks of being in this room,” the Secretary said she was dumbfounded by that notion.

I can’t believe y’all have been here for two weeks,” Clinton said. “My deepest sympathy to all of you.”

The winter press tour winds up Sunday.

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