Archive for the ‘HBO’ Category

Dennis Leary Meet Michael Whouley

April 11, 2008

Michael Whouley           Dennis Leary


I learned about an upcoming HBO project with relevance to the Boston political world, Recount, recently. Following a showing of John Adams, I was paying partial attention to the promo that came on next. I heard talk about an election and saw red-headed Dennis Leary flamboyantly opining about politics. Two words came into my head: Michael Whouley.

When I looked up the project, I discovered that Recount was a story about the 2000 election and that Leary was indeed playing Whouley. What fabulous casting!

I profiled Whouley in the Boston Phoenix back in 1999

“It was here, in the 1970s, when the new John Hancock Tower was shedding plate-glass windows, that a young, opportunistic Michael Whouley rushed to pick up the shards of broken glass and attach them to pieces of wood, which he then sold to tourists as souvenirs…In 1992, Whouley became one of the first operatives to sign on with the Clinton campaign, as its national field director. Only in his early 30s, he was already a hardened political battler. A graduate of Boston College and BC High, he’d made his name locally during Joseph Timilty’s unsuccessful run for mayor in 1979, when he came in to the Timilty campaign offering to handle Dorchester’s Ward 15. A field coordinator named Thomas Menino oversaw Whouley’s work.

‘He told us he had a lot of friends and that he could get a lot of votes for us,’ Mayor Menino recalls. ‘He was able to produce — even in a losing campaign. He had it in his blood.’

Whouley’s instincts were winning in 1992, when he orchestrated a Clinton victory in the Florida straw poll during the primary campaign. Baker, who joined the Clinton team during the general election, remembers Whouley’s early decision to go with Clinton as a risk that paid off. “Michael made a conscious decision to be with Clinton at a time when a lot of people were with Tsongas,” he says. Whouley is credited with getting Clinton on television early on the night of the New Hampshire primary and setting the tone of how the election results were interpreted. Remember that Tsongas actually won, but it was Clinton who garnered attention as the ‘Comeback Kid.’

The 1992 New Hampshire primary brought Whouley and company into contact with another key member of the Gore team — Kiki Moore. Moore, who served until last week as the press secretary of Gore’s 2000 campaign, is also a member of the Dewey Square Group. She met Whouley while serving as a flack for the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the organization that helped Clinton craft his approach to politics.” 

HBO, John Adams and the Meaning of Evacuation Day

March 17, 2008

John and Abigail Adams

Amid the stir of Guinness sponsoring a nationwide effort to make St. Patrick’s Day a holiday is the recognition that Bostonians already get March 17 off. In one of those happy coincidences, March 17 in Boston is also Evacuation Day, which marks the day George Washington and Colonial troops drove the British out of the city.

The day is typically ridiculed as a “hack holiday” but anyone who caught a glimpse of last night’s magnificent HBO mini-series John Adams got to see the power and meaning behind it. Abigail Adams hears a man cry out and the sound of marching. Frightened, she readies a musket and exits her Quincy home. She looks out to find a procession of Colonials. They are hauling two massive cannon captured from the British at Fort Ticonderga. General Knox tells her the Americans have dubbed them “Liberty” and “Independence.” (Incidentally, I’m not sure if she could have seen the ships departing from her home on Adams Street — I passed it yesterday — but certainly from the top of the vantage point now known as “Presidents Hill” for her husband and son.)

They don’t get into it in the movie, which is by far the most gripping depiction of America’s revolution I have ever seen on television, but the Colonials took the artillery to Dorchester Heights. Dorchester Heights is not in nearby Dorchester, but the highest point in South Boston, the epicenter of Irish America. With the cannon in place, the British, who had occupied Boston for several years, finally departed.

While there is, of course, a political element to Boston’s celebration of Evacuation Day, it’s nice to be reminded that there is great significance behind it as well. Here’s a website that explains what Bostonians are doing to celebrate Evacuation Day as well.