Dave (1993)

PG-13 | 110 mins | Comedy, Romance | 7 May 1993

Director:

Ivan Reitman

Writer:

Gary Ross

Cinematographer:

Adam Greenberg

Editor:

Sheldon Kahn

Production Designer:

J. Michael Riva

Production Companies:

Warner Bros. Pictures , Northern Lights Entertainment , Donner/Shuler-Donner Productions
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HISTORY

End credits include “Special Thanks” and the following statement: “We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy; The National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland; and The Navy Office of Information, West; The Mayor’s Office of Television and Film Development, Washington, D.C.; The Washington Metropolitan Police Department – Special Operations Division; The United States Navy Memorial Foundation, Washington, D.C.; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Allison Kennedy; Elliot M. Kaplan; H. P. Goldfield; Steven B. Hantler; The Office of the Clerk of the House of Delegates and The Clerk of the Senate and The State of Virginia; CNN/Cable News Network, Inc., C-SPAN, WRC-TV, Washington, D.C., WJLA, Washington, D.C., and W-BAL TV, Baltimore; MLBP for Baseball Trademarks Licenses; The Baltimore Orioles Baseball Team & Oriole Park/Camden Yards.”
       According to the 13—19 May 1993 issue of Drama-Logue, writer Gary Ross was inspired to develop a political screenplay after observing White House Chiefs of Staff serving during the Iran-Contra Affair. He pitched the idea for Dave, then titled Mr. President, to his friend, producer Lauren Shuler-Donner, in 1985, but a 2 May 1993 LAT article stated that her current studio, Walt Disney Productions, rejected the project due to their hesitancy to satirize a conservative U.S. Presidency while Ronald Reagan still held office. Ross’s script lay dormant until Shuler-Donner eventually presented it to Warner Bros. Pictures. According to an 11 May 1993 LAT article, the studio purchased the property in 1987. Two years later, a 15 Feb 1989 DV story included Dave as one of two Shuler-Donner-produced features to be directed by her ... More Less

End credits include “Special Thanks” and the following statement: “We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy; The National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland; and The Navy Office of Information, West; The Mayor’s Office of Television and Film Development, Washington, D.C.; The Washington Metropolitan Police Department – Special Operations Division; The United States Navy Memorial Foundation, Washington, D.C.; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Allison Kennedy; Elliot M. Kaplan; H. P. Goldfield; Steven B. Hantler; The Office of the Clerk of the House of Delegates and The Clerk of the Senate and The State of Virginia; CNN/Cable News Network, Inc., C-SPAN, WRC-TV, Washington, D.C., WJLA, Washington, D.C., and W-BAL TV, Baltimore; MLBP for Baseball Trademarks Licenses; The Baltimore Orioles Baseball Team & Oriole Park/Camden Yards.”
       According to the 13—19 May 1993 issue of Drama-Logue, writer Gary Ross was inspired to develop a political screenplay after observing White House Chiefs of Staff serving during the Iran-Contra Affair. He pitched the idea for Dave, then titled Mr. President, to his friend, producer Lauren Shuler-Donner, in 1985, but a 2 May 1993 LAT article stated that her current studio, Walt Disney Productions, rejected the project due to their hesitancy to satirize a conservative U.S. Presidency while Ronald Reagan still held office. Ross’s script lay dormant until Shuler-Donner eventually presented it to Warner Bros. Pictures. According to an 11 May 1993 LAT article, the studio purchased the property in 1987. Two years later, a 15 Feb 1989 DV story included Dave as one of two Shuler-Donner-produced features to be directed by her husband, Richard Donner, which the 9 Jan 1990 DV noted as their first collaboration since Ladyhawke (1985, see entry).
       However, Drama-Logue stated that Donner quickly lost interest and was replaced by Ivan Reitman, who was attracted to the script’s personal themes. The 11 May 1993 LAT indicated that although Reitman frequently worked with Universal Pictures, his contract at the time was non-exclusive. In 1990, Ross also signed a deal to write for Universal, but was still allowed to return to Dave once it entered preproduction in 1992. According to the 2 May 1993 LAT, Ross spent more than a year completing the first draft of the screenplay while simultaneously working as a speechwriter for presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. He then heavily revised the “cryptic, idiot-savant tone,” by making the character of “Dave Kovic” less “passive aggressive” and more likeable, and took Shuler-Donner’s suggestion of developing Dave’s romance with First Lady “Ellen Mitchell.” With Reitman, Ross expanded Ellen’s role and increased the number of scenes featuring real-life politicians, reporters, and show business personalities, many of whom were his personal friends. Concerned about confusing the “line between fiction and reality,” the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) prohibited newscaster Andrea Mitchell from appearing in the film, but the 11 May 1993 NYT stated that many other journalists responded enthusiastically when Ross approached them at the 1992 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The politicians, who improvised their dialogue to fit their own ideologies, donated their wages to charities, and the journalists were paid $1,000 per day. Ross also received input from Anna Perez, former press secretary to First Lady Barbara Bush, who is not credited onscreen.
       Although Reitman told the 4 Nov 1993 issue of The Times of London, England, that Kevin Kline had always been his first choice to play “Dave Kovic/Bill Mitchell,” various contemporary sources indicated that multiple actors were considered for the role. The 2 May 1993 LAT named Robin Williams as an “obvious” potential star, and during preproduction, a 5 Apr 1991 DV brief announced the casting of Michael Keaton. A year later, the 27 Apr 1992 Var reported that Warren Beatty and Kevin Costner turned down the part before it was offered to Kline. The casting delays allegedly caused Reitman to debate leaving the project to direct Oh Baby, later titled Junior (1994, see entry), for Universal.
       Dave marked the third collaboration between Reitman and Sigourney Weaver, who starred in Ghostbusters (1984, see entry) and Ghostbusters II (1989, see entry). The 17 Jul 1992 Screen International claimed that Dan Aykroyd was also expected to co-star, but he does not appear in the final film. The 23 May 1993 LAT stated that Ruth Goldway was cast as the “Secretary of Education” due to her association with Ross, who had worked with her husband, Derek Shearer, on Dukakis’ speechwriting team. Goldway personally selected her character’s Cabinet department, chose her costume from garments provided by Talbot’s clothing store, and requested that she be referred to onscreen by her married surname, “Shearer.” A 29 Jul 1992 DV story reported that Senators Alfonse D’Amato, Lloyd Bentsen, and Daniel P. Moynihan withdrew from their scheduled cameo appearances, due to the studio’s connection to Warner Bros.’ record firm, which had recently released the controversial Ice-T song, “Cop Killer.”
       According to Drama-Logue, production was preceded by two weeks of full cast rehearsals, but Reitman began working with Kline two weeks prior to develop distinctions between the actor’s dual roles. Since Reitman encouraged improvisation and suggestion, it was Kline who envisioned Dave as an amateur singer, which led to the inclusion of the Broadway show tunes, “Oklahoma” and “Tomorrow.”
       18 Aug 1992 HR production charts confirmed principal photography began 13 Aug 1992, with filming planned in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, CA. Although the item named “Ivan Reitman Productions,” Reitman’s production company is acknowledged onscreen as Northern Lights Entertainment.
       Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that production designer J. Michael Riva reconstructed the White House West Wing—including the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room, the Press Briefing room, the Rose Garden, and its adjacent Portico—on Stage 18 at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, CA. Residential quarters and the Truman Balcony were built on Stage 25, and exteriors were constructed at the Los Angeles Arboretum in Arcadia, CA. Set decorator Michael Taylor researched the Oval Office replica at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to create a direct copy of the desk used by Reagan and John F. Kennedy. Carpeting was provided by White House suppliers, although various contemporary sources noted that Riva changed the color from blue to brown. In addition, uncredited set dresser Leslie Warren contacted museums and organizations for information about how to recreate portraits and statues in the White House. A 6 May 1993 DV story noted that Riva’s Dave sets were re-used in multiple film and television productions, including In the Line of Fire (1993, see entry), and, as stated in the 26 Apr 1993 DV, The Pelican Brief (1993, see entry).
       A 7 May 1993 HR article listed the final production cost at $28 million.
       Although Dave was originally scheduled to open in Aug 1993, Warner Bros. moved the film to the beginning of the summer season after it received positive reactions from test screening audiences. Reitman reportedly shortened his postproduction schedule in order to build early interest holding press screenings in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Warner Bros. also held well-received previews of the film during the weekends of 23 Apr 1993 and 1 May 1993, before its 7 May 1993 national release in 1,155 theaters. The 6 May 1993 DV reported that the film first premiered in Washington, D.C., followed by an event at the National Theater in Westwood, CA, which raised $250,000 for the Westside Children’s Center. The 11 May 1993 LAT listed Dave’s opening weekend gross at $7.3 million.
       Both the film and Kline's performance received Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor--Musical or Comedy and Best Picture--Musical or Comedy. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1989
p. 25.
Daily Variety
9 Jan 1990.
---
Daily Variety
5 Apr 1991.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jul 1992.
---
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1993.
---
Daily Variety
6 May 1993.
---
Drama-Logue
13--19 May 1993
pp. 4-6.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 1993
p. 8, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 1993
p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
2 May 1993
Calendar, p. 20, 22, 24.
Los Angeles Times
7 May 1993
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
11 May 1993.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 May 1993
Section J, p. 1, 5.
New York Times
7 May 1993
Section C, p. 12.
New York Times
11 May 1993
Section C, pp. 13-14.
Screen International
17 Jul 1992.
---
The Times (London)
4 Nov 1993.
---
Variety
27 Apr 1992.
---
Variety
26 Apr 1993
p. 68.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. presents
a Northern Lights Entertainment Donner/Shuler-Donner production
an Ivan Reitman film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit 1st asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
2d cam op
1st cam asst
1st cam asst
2d cam asst
2d cam asst
Steadicam op
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
Aerial photog, 2d unit
Wescam op, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set des
Set des
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Standby painter
Industrial robot props provided by
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ms. Weaver's ward by
Asst des
Asst des
Cost supv
Key costumer
MUSIC
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
Orch cond
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Eff ed
Eff ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Foley supv
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst ADR ed
1st asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Prod sd mixer
Video playback
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles & opticals
Spec eff foreman
Visual eff supv, Buena Vista Visual Effects
Matte painting supv, Buena Vista Visual Effects
Visual eff prod, Buena Vista Visual Effects
Matte cam, Buena Vista Visual Effects
Opt supv, Buena Vista Visual Effects
Visual eff line-up, Buena Vista Visual Effects
Digital compositing
Digital film rec
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc mgr
White House tech adv
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Prod secy
Asst prod secy
Asst to Mr. Reitman
Asst to Ms. Shuler-Donner
Asst to Ms. Shuler-Donner
Asst to Mr. Medjuck
Asst to Mr. Gross
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Casting assoc
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
Animal trainer
Catering
Loc mgr, 2d unit
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timing
SOURCES
SONGS
"Don't," written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, performed by Elvis Presley, courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music
"Oklahoma," written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, II
"Tomorrow," written by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin
+
SONGS
"Don't," written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, performed by Elvis Presley, courtesy of the RCA Records Label of BMG Music
"Oklahoma," written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, II
"Tomorrow," written by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin
"Louie Louie," written by Richard Berry.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Mr. President
Release Date:
7 May 1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 7 May 1993
New York opening: week of 7 May 1993
Production Date:
began 13 August 1993 in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, Burbank, and Arcadia, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, a division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, LP
Copyright Date:
27 May 1993
Copyright Number:
PA618007
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32386
SYNOPSIS

After a trip abroad, U.S. President Bill Mitchell returns to the White House in Washington, D.C., and resumes work with his staff. Meanwhile, Dave Kovic, an altruistic job placement agent with a striking resemblance to the president, impersonates the politician at a local car dealership event, where he is spotted by Secret Service agent Duane Stevensen. Duane later recruits Dave to serve as the chief executive’s doppelganger at various public functions. Once his hair is appropriately cut and dyed, Dave meets President Mitchell in a hotel room after a dinner gala. As the leader disappears to engage in an affair with his secretary, Randi, Dave is instructed to leave the hotel in his place. Breaking from the president’s usually gruff demeanor, he smiles and waves at his admirers, joyfully shouting, “God bless America!” When President Mitchell suffers a stroke that leaves him comatose, Chief of Staff Bob Alexander conspires to use the incident to ascend to the Presidency. Communications Director Alan Reed downplays the severity of the president’s condition, informing the press that he has experienced a “minor circulatory problem of the head.” By framing the honorable Vice-President Gary Nance in a financial scandal while he is away on a diplomatic trip to Africa, Alexander hopes to assume the position, leaving him next in succession when the president has another, more severe stroke. Inviting Dave to the Oval Office, Bob and Alan convince him to continue his charade indefinitely, and have him examined by the president’s physician, who is astounded by his apparent recovery. Bob then instructs Dave to telephone his co-workers at the job agency, pretending that he has fled to Cancun, Mexico, with a lover. While familiarizing ... +


After a trip abroad, U.S. President Bill Mitchell returns to the White House in Washington, D.C., and resumes work with his staff. Meanwhile, Dave Kovic, an altruistic job placement agent with a striking resemblance to the president, impersonates the politician at a local car dealership event, where he is spotted by Secret Service agent Duane Stevensen. Duane later recruits Dave to serve as the chief executive’s doppelganger at various public functions. Once his hair is appropriately cut and dyed, Dave meets President Mitchell in a hotel room after a dinner gala. As the leader disappears to engage in an affair with his secretary, Randi, Dave is instructed to leave the hotel in his place. Breaking from the president’s usually gruff demeanor, he smiles and waves at his admirers, joyfully shouting, “God bless America!” When President Mitchell suffers a stroke that leaves him comatose, Chief of Staff Bob Alexander conspires to use the incident to ascend to the Presidency. Communications Director Alan Reed downplays the severity of the president’s condition, informing the press that he has experienced a “minor circulatory problem of the head.” By framing the honorable Vice-President Gary Nance in a financial scandal while he is away on a diplomatic trip to Africa, Alexander hopes to assume the position, leaving him next in succession when the president has another, more severe stroke. Inviting Dave to the Oval Office, Bob and Alan convince him to continue his charade indefinitely, and have him examined by the president’s physician, who is astounded by his apparent recovery. Bob then instructs Dave to telephone his co-workers at the job agency, pretending that he has fled to Cancun, Mexico, with a lover. While familiarizing himself with policies and members of the Cabinet, Dave demonstrates a natural ability for impersonating a charismatic politician. Before an appearance on the White House balcony, however, he becomes anxious about meeting the frigid First Lady, Ellen, who resents her husband’s philandering. Over the next two weeks, the public positively responds to “President Mitchell’s” newfound vigor and warmth, and Ellen grows suspicious. One day, Alan schedules Dave to appear at an event supporting Ellen’s favorite homeless children’s shelter. Although the First Lady initially questions his motives, she is moved by his genuine connection with an introverted boy. Meanwhile, Bob Alexander forges President Mitchell’s signature to veto multiple Congressional bills, including legislation intended to fund the shelter. When Ellen barges in on Dave in the shower to angrily protest the decision, Dave questions Alexander, who warns against challenging his authority. One afternoon, Dave reveals his deception to his accountant friend, Murray Blum, and invites him to help revise the national budget. In a Cabinet meeting, Dave enables the shelter funding to move forward by winning his colleagues’ enthusiastic support for various department spending alternatives. Alexander is enraged, but Alan threatens to expose their ruse in order to protect Dave. That evening, Ellen determines that Dave is an imposter and asks to know what happened to her husband. Agent Stevensen brings Ellen and Dave to the restricted basement medical facility where President Mitchell is being treated. Upon learning that he will not recover, Ellen packs her belongings and plans to return home. Dave accompanies her through an underground tunnel to the edge of the White House grounds, borrows a car, and drives her through town. When he makes an illegal turn, however, they are pulled over by a police officer and are forced to explain their obvious resemblance to the Mitchells by pretending to be impersonators. Dave then takes Ellen for sandwiches in the park, where he tells her about his job and former marriage, and the two bond over their mutual desire to use their positions of power to affect change for the country. Later, they return to the White House together and linger in the hallway before saying goodnight. The next morning, Bob Alexander barges into the Oval Office to dispute Dave’s plans for an impromptu national press conference. Dave subsequently fires him, stunning the media by announcing Alexander’s resignation and vowing to create a national employment program. He receives a visit from Vice-President Nance, recently returned from Africa, who scorns him for falsely leaking his name in connection to the financial scandal. Dave quickly realizes that Alan Reed and Bob Alexander orchestrated the set-up, but Alexander has already called a press conference to publicly accuse President Mitchell of his involvement. Dave’s distress deepens when Alan reveals that Mitchell actually did commit the crimes in question. That night, Dave thaws the president’s frosty relationship with Nance, and Ellen confesses that she does not want to lose him. In a televised statement before Congress, Dave claims full responsibility for the president’s actions, but, thanks to Alan, procures written proof that Alexander devised the scheme. After clearing Nance’s name, he begins to apologize to the American people, but collapses at the podium from a feigned stroke. Inside the ambulance, Dave switches places with the comatose President Mitchell, whose terminally brain-damaged condition is then announced to the public. Disguised in a paramedic’s uniform, Dave says goodbye to Agent Stevensen and slips away, unnoticed. Following President Mitchell’s death five months later, Nance assumes the Presidency, hoping to continue many of Dave’s initiatives, and Alexander is indicted for corruption. Across town, Ellen dons a baseball cap and coat to discreetly volunteer at Dave’s new campaign office for city councilman. Relieved that her unhappy marriage is finally over, she and Dave kiss, closing the office blinds to avoid the stares of his bewildered staff members as Duane stands guard at the door. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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