POLITICS

'Below the Beltway' is back, based on real-life rumors

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Yeas and Nays,Politics
When you talk to those involved in the movie project "Below the Beltway," they consider it the little indie movie that could. Filmed in the area back in June 2009, it received accolades at the Newport Beach Film Festival and was aired on Showtime. It's getting new life this month with a DVD release.

It's also considered the indie movie that gets D.C. right. The film features Tate Donovan as a Washington insider whose lobbying career is destroyed over a viral YouTube gaffe. Donovan tries to get back in the game by outing a sitting U.S. senator for sleeping with an underage intern.

"The movie is pitch perfect because it is never the sex that gets the politicians in trouble, it is always the cover-up," explained Susanna Quinn, who was one of the Washingtonians who appeared in the film, alongside her husband Jack Quinn of Quinn Gillespie & Associates.

If the movie rings true, it's because of writer and producer Jim Wareck, who spent more than a decade working in politics before penning a script loosely based on his own experiences.

"What we tried to do is really capture the fact that a lot of the work in D.C. is done by people that nobody ever sees, hence the term, 'Below the Beltway,' " Wareck said.

The movie's title also makes reference to the sex scandal, a part of the plot that Wareck based on a real rumor about a politician still in office.

"I had heard a rumor about somebody high up in Washington," Wareck revealed to Yeas & Nays, without identifying the pol. "I don't have the true facts. It was a spark of a story. Could it be true? Very well. Do I know? No. Was I in the bedroom? No."

Wareck used the tale to develop the character of Sen. Larry Gryder, played by actor Spencer Garrett, whose political movie roster includes "Bobby" and portrayals of Tom Delay in "Casino Jack" and a Sarah Palin adviser in the forthcoming flick "Game Change."

Garrett said he never knew who the rumor was about, but based his U.S. senator on particularly odious characters. "All these guys who purport to be family values, flag-waving guys, but are really just corroded underneath," Garrett explained, without going further. "I'm not going to name any names."

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