The line between the world of politics and entertainment has become increasingly blurred over the years, a trend that writer/director Paul Weitz lampoons in his latest film "American Dreamz."
"It's a satire about the world of an 'American Idol'-type show, which is called in our movie, 'American Dreamz,'" explains Chris Klein, who worked with Weitz on the "American Pie" films. "At this point in time, it's gotten so out of hand that the President of the United States is going to be a celebrity judge at the finals. And at the same time, [a terrorist leader] figures out a way to get a suicide bomber into the finals to blow up the President."
In the film, the Commander in Chief (Dennis Quaid) has just finished a successful term in office when he suddenly decides to make a fresh start.
"The president wakes up the day after re-election and decides, 'I think I'll read. I'm going to do some reading,'" says Quaid.
Through newspapers, President Staton discovers a whole new world that his advisor had previously filtered for him. He begins on this journey of self-instruction by learning about the three types of "Iraqistanis" and from there doesn't want to do anything but read in his pajamas. Concerned about Staton's prolonged public absence, the Chief of Staff (Willem Dafoe) sets up a whirlwind publicity tour, culminating with the "American Dreamz" finale show.
Even though Staton's character exhibits a few Bush-like traits, Quaid doesn't believe that "Dreamz" adheres to any particular political ideology.
"It's not pro-Democrat or Republican really, but it is a satire on American culture and what we find important," remarks Quaid.
Although Klein doesn't play a politician, his character serves his country in a different way.
"I play William Williams who gets dumped by Mandy Moore's character [Sally] when she goes off to LA to get famous [on 'American Dreams,']" says Klein. "So I decide to go to Iraq. I come back injured, and her new agent decides that it's great television drama if she's dating a war hero, that it'd be great for her voting public to get her into the finals."
With the help of the show's host/producer Martin Tweed (Hugh Grant), Sally stops at nothing to achieve stardom, even if it means betraying William. When he learns of this deception, William becomes bitterly disillusioned and is driven to extreme action that threatens national security.
"Yeah, so the movie's out there. When I read the script, I called Paul Weitz ... and said, 'Can we really make this?'" recalls Klein. "He goes, 'Can we make it? We're making it. Money's in the bank. Universal's on board.'"
Despite the film's obvious pokes at "American Idol," Klein supports the idea behind the FOX reality show.
"I think that the one thing that it's great for is that it really sends a message to young people that if you work and if you persevere, your dreams of doing whatever you want to do can be accomplished," says Klein.
"American Dreamz" opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, April 21.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times