Wag the Dog script
Wag the Dog (1997)
Synopsis: Two weeks prior to reelection, the United States president lands in the middle of a sex scandal. In need of outside help to quell the situation, presidential adviser Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) enlists the expertise of spin doctor Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro), who decides a distraction is the best course of action. Brean approaches Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) to help him fabricate a war in Albania -- and once underway, the duo has the media entirely focused on the war.

FADE IN:

A CARD, WHITE ON THE BLACK SCREEN, READS:

Why does a dog wag its tail?

BENEATH IT, THE NEXT LINE FADES IN:

Because a dog is smarter than its tail.

CROSS-FADE TO THE NEXT CARD, WHICH READS:

If the tail were smarter, the tail would wag the dog.

DISSOLVE:

FADE IN:

EXT THE WHITE HOUSE NIGHT

A VAN FULL OF PEOPLE STOPS AT A SIDE ENTRANCE.

ANGLE INT THE WHITE HOUSE

AT THE SIDE, UTILITY ENTRANCE, WE SEE THE DISGORGING WORKING-CLASS MEN AND

WOMEN, THEY PASS THROUGH SECURITY SCREENING IN THE B.G., THROUGH METAL

DETECTORS, AND PAST SEVERAL GUARDS WHO CHECK THE PHOTO-I.D.'S AROUND THEIR

NECKS.

ANGLE INT THE WHITE HOUSE

WILFRED AMES, AND AMY CAIN, A BRIGHT YOUNG WOMAN IN HER TWENTIES, WALKING DOWN

A CORRIDOR, LOOKING WORRIED.

ANGLE AMES AND CAIN

AMES AND CAIN HAVE STOPPED AT THE END OF THE HALL. BEYOND THEM WE SEE THE

CLEANING PEOPLE COMING IN FROM THE VAN, AND BEING CLEARED THROUGH A METAL

DETECTOR INTO A HOLDING AREA, AND HANDED CLEANING MATERIALS, MOPS, VACUUMS, ET

CETERA, BY A TYPE HOLDING A CLIPBOARD. PART OF THE GROUP, A MAN IN HIS

FORTIES, IN A RATTY JACKET, OPEN COLLARED SHIRT, PASSES THROUGH THE GROUP,

AND IS STOPPED BY A SECRET SERVICEMAN WHO APPEARS NEXT TO AMES. IN THE B.G.

WE SEE A TV IN AN ADJACENT ROOM, SHOWING A POLITICAL COMMERCIAL.

AMES:

(TO SECRET SERVICEMAN)

...That's him.

AMES MOVES OUT OF THE SHOT. LEAVING US ON THE POLITICAL COMMERCIAL.

WE SEE TWO BUSINESS PEOPLE ON THE PLANE, A MAN AND A WOMAN.

BUSINESSMAN:

Well, all I know, you don't change horses in the middle

of the stream.

BUSINESSWOMAN:

"Don't change Horses," well, there's a lot of truth in

that.

THE IMAGE SHIFTS TO A PRESIDENT, DOING PRESIDENTIAL THINGS. AND THE VOICE-

OVER.

VOICE-OVER

For Peace, prosperity, for all of us: Don't change

Horses in...

ANGLE:

A CORRIDOR OF THE WHITE HOUSE, AS AMES AND THE MAN IN THE RATTY JACKET (BREAN)

WALK HURRIEDLY. AMES FINISHES ONE CIGARETTE AND USES THE BUTT TO LIGHT A

FRESH ONE. THEY PASS BY A LARGE PHOTOGRAPH OF THE BACK OF A MAN, BENDING TO

SHAKE HANDS WITH ONE OF A LINE OF GIRLSCOUTS. AMES GLANCES UP AT THE

PHOTOGRAPH AND SHAKES HIS HEAD DEJECTEDLY.

INT WHITE HOUSE "SITUATION" ROOM. NIGHT.

A WOMAN WITH A STENOPAD, ARRANGING PADS AND PENCILS AT A SMALL CONFERENCE

TABLE. A SECRET SERVICE TYPE PUTS HIS HEAD IN THE ROOM, AND BOWS OUT, AND

NODS, BREAN AND AMES ENTER HURRIEDLY.

AMES:

We're going to...

HE STOPS TALKING AS A WHITE HOUSE WAITER ENTERS WITH A TRAY WITH COFFEE THINGS

ON IT, FOLLOWED BY TWO YOUNG AIDES, SLEEPY AND DISHEVELLED, WHO ENTER QUICKLY,

AND APOLOGIES UNUTTERED, SIT AND MAKE THEMSELVES SMALL.

BREAN MAKES A LITTLE GESTURE AT THE WAITER, WHO IS SETTING OUT THE COFFEE,

AND AT THE STENOGRAPHER, MEANING "GET THEM OUT OF HERE."

AMES:

Thank you, that'll be all.

THE STENOGRAPHER AND THE WAITER LEAVE

BREAN:

(OF THE TWO STAFFERS)

Who we got here...?

AMES:

John Levy, Staff, and Amy Cain, Press Off....

BREAN:

Alright. Look here, any of you kids hear in this

room:
what you hear here, what you say here, what you

do here, f'it got out, you leaked it.

(TO AMES)

Tell'em what they need to know.

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Hilary Henkin

Hilary Henkin is an American screenwriter and producer, nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her work on the screenplay of Wag the Dog in 1997. more…

All Hilary Henkin scripts | Hilary Henkin Books

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"Wag the Dog" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 18 Nov. 2017. <http://www.scripts.com/script/wag_the_dog_322>.

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