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Ricardo Baca is the Caller-Times media critic. He can be reached via email at

Sunday, January 14, 2001

The King makes primetime visit on TCM

Also: Clinton profiled on PBS special as he prepares to leave the White House

Elvis may have left the building, but thereís still plenty of footage left for him to make a primetime visit to your living room.
   The King makes a small screen appearance when Turner Classic Movies airs "Elvis: Thatís the Way it Is - Special Edition" at 7 p.m. Monday. The special edition of the film has been re-edited from start to finish using only original elements. For Elvis fans itís comparable to a never-heard-before rendition of "Love Me Tender."
   In one scene, while singing the sultry ballad "Love Me Tender," Elvis takes an elongated instrumental break as he wanders around the entire auditorium and kisses every woman he sees. In addition to locking lips with at least 50 girls, he shakes their boyfriendís hands - a charismatic performer who plays to every member of the audience.
   The film gives an insight into how audiences have changed through the years: While the puckering Elvis wanders the auditorium, the concertgoers respect his space.
   If Elvis were alive today and tried that, heíd need at least four ex-NFL bodyguards protecting him from the crush of pushy, yet adoring, fans. The Backstreet Boys can barely walk into McDonaldís without being lovingly suffocated and mobbed; they must have a death wish should they ever choose to go beyond the security barrier at their concerts.
   Packing up
   Speaking of leaving the building, William Jefferson Clinton is packing things up and preparing himself for the numerous responsibilities of an ex-president: golf tournaments, speaking engagements, ribbon cutting ceremonies and fund-raising breakfasts for his wife.
   Last week, ABCís "Nightline" aired segments of a series called "The Clinton Years." Now PBS has put it all together in a comprehensive overview that looks back on Clintonís career and includes 120 minutes of Clinton starring as the Comeback Kid.
   It was a reputation he earned by bouncing back from near-political-death situations. Did he smoke pot? Did he dodge the draft? Did he have sexual relations with that woman? Or that woman?
   No matter what the circumstance, Clinton came back and beat the odds by getting re-elected for a second term and garnering high approval ratings even after lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky to everyone - including his wife, the American public and his staff.
   "The Clinton Years" (8 p.m. Tuesday on PBS) includes key interviews with former staffers from every era of the Clinton regime. Clinton press secretaries Joe Lockhart, Michael McCurry and Dee Dee Myers are interviewed, as well as former White House advisor George Stephanopoulos, secretary of state Madeleine Albright and national security advisor Samuel Berger.
   The interviews tell all about the state of affairs within the Clinton camp throughout the last nine years. A juicy note: many of the staff denounce a strategist whom Clinton turned to in times of turmoil. In years past, Clinton would secretly call strategist Dick Morris when trouble showed its face. Because the president would trust Morris and his polling efforts more than his own staff, Clintonís inner-circle despised the strategist and the presidentís under-the-table relationship with him.
   Other particularly tasty interviews are with staffers who talk about the time in the West Wing when Clinton testified about his relationship with Lewinsky. They appear devastated as they talk about the day they realized he had been lying to them the entire time and allowed them to publically defend him even when he knew it wasnít the truth.
   Itís a seamless production with great educational and historical value, and even the most avid of news buffs will find new information or anecdotes.


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