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Mike Nichols directed this Elaine May screenplay adapted from the 1996 bestseller by "Anonymous" (Joe Klein), who fictionalized Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. In the New Hampshire primary, Governor Jack Stanton (John Travolta) convinces Henry Burton (Adrian Lester), grandson of a respected civil rights pioneer, to become his deputy campaign manager. Stanton's smart wife Susan (Emma Thompson) always comes through with public support for her philandering husband. The film's parallel for James Carville is Stanton's redneck advisor Richard Jemmons (Billy Bob Thornton), who knows every strategy and tactic but worries, "The woman thing, that's the killer." Sure enough, problems during the New Hampshire primary include charges of adultery. To get a handle on past peccadillos, Stanton's staff brings in an old family friend, lesbian Libby Holden (Kathy Bates), who knows how to clean up dirt. Stanton, a strong debater, moves on to Florida and New York. When one opposing candidate drops dead of a heart attack, he's replaced by Florida's Governor Fred Picker (Larry Hagman), but Holden holds the skeleton key to the skeleton in Picker's closet. Just how the Stantons put this information to use reveals whether they are ruthless politicians or inspirational leaders with ideals. ~ Bhob Stewart, Rovi

  • Release date:May 29, 1998


Awarded by
Screen Actors Guild Kathy Bates Best Supporting Actress 1998 Winner
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Kathy Bates Best Supporting Actress (Runner-up) 1998 Winner
Broadcast Film Critics Association Kathy Bates Best Supporting Actress 1998 Winner
Chicago Film Critics Association Kathy Bates Best Supporting Actress 1998 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Kathy Bates Best Supporting Actress 1998 Nominee
Broadcast Film Critics Association Billy Bob Thornton Best Supporting Actor 1998 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Elaine May Best Adapted Screenplay 1998 Nominee


John Travolta
as Gov. Jack Stanton
Emma Thompson
as Susan Stanton
Billy Bob Thornton
as Richard Jemmons
Kathy Bates
as Libby Holden
Adrian Lester
as Henry Burton
Maura Tierney
as Daisy
Larry Hagman
as Gov. Fred Picker
Diane Ladd
as Mamma Stanton
Paul Guilfoyle
as Howard Ferguson
Rebecca Walker
as March
Caroline Aaron
as Lucille Kaufman
Tommy Hollis
as Fat Willie
Rob Reiner
as Izzy Rosenblatt
Ben Jones
as Arlen Sporken
J.C. Quinn
as Uncle Charlie
Allison Janney
as Miss Walsh
Robert Klein
as Norman Asher
Mykelti Williamson
as Dewayne Smith
Tony Shalhoub
as Eddie Reyes
Brian Markinson
as Randy Culligan
Ned Eisenberg
as Brad Lieberman
O'Neal Compton
as Sailorman Shoreson
Chelcie Ross
as Charlie Martin
Bonnie Bartlett
as Martha Harris
John Vargas
as Lorenzo Delgado
Stacy Edwards
as Jennifer Rogers
Gia Carides
as Cashmere McLeod
John Milford
Harrison Young
as Sam
Robert Symonds
as Bart Nilson
Sally Insul
Robert Symonds
as Bart Nilson
Harrison Young
as Sam


Mike Nichols
Mike Nichols
Elaine May
Michael Ballhaus
Ry Cooder
Composer (Music Score)
Arthur Schmidt
Michele Imperato
Michael Haley
Associate Producer
Neil Machlis
Executive Producer
Jonathan D. Krane
Executive Producer
Cheryl Carasik
Set Designer
Sean Haworth
Set Designer
Ann Roth
Costume Designer
Gary Jones
Costume Designer
Michael Haley
First Assistant Director
Juliet Taylor
Ellen Lewis
Juel Bestrop
Liz Radley
Second Unit Director