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DVD Review: White House Revealed

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Ooooh, doesn’t White House Revealed sound like it would be just chock-full of scandal and juicy gossip about all things White House related? Imagination runs rampant with visions of girls (and guys) being snuck in through private entrances, wild parties, and all manner of that infamous activity that no one seems to get tired of hearing about—hanky panky. Now if that’s what you’re interested in, White House Revealed is definitely not the DVD for you. Sorry.

A respectful tribute to those who serve as the White House residence staff narrated by Martin Sheen, White House Revealed enlightens the audience about the duties and responsibilities of the 95 people who comprise that staff. Filled with photos and archival videos, it “recounts decades of fascinating, behind-the-scenes stories, giving audiences of all ages the tour of a lifetime.”

Loyal staffers—including ushers (a more important title than it sounds), maids, valets, butlers, assistants, chefs, florists, plumbers and engineers—who have worked at the White House share memories of First Families, First Pets, state dinners, and history-making events (e.g., 9-11 and the assassination of JFK. Can you imagine a documentary that somehow doesn’t include the JFK assassination?). They talk about watching children grow up and doing what they can to make a president’s bad day better—in the case of the pastry chef, it was to make a favorite dessert.

An interview with George and Barbara Bush is threaded throughout the program, and they share fond memories of the people who shared their living space. Barbara is referred to as “the grandmother of the White House,” because she knew everyone working there by name, and would make special trips to pay them visits.

Information about the busiest time of year (Christmastime) and the most stressful day (Inauguration), as well as bits about visiting dignitaries and family routines are all shared in this family-friendly, innocuous look at the people who make the White House work.

Available July 20, White House Revealed is a production of the Smithsonian network and includes sneak peaks at other Smithsonian features.


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