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The Presidents' Gatekeepers (2013)

Featuring exclusive interviews with all 20 living White House chiefs of staff. Spanning 50 years and nine administrations, it is an unprecedented series that pulls back the curtain on the inner workings of the Oval Office.


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Credited cast:
Kevin Bacon ... Himself - Narrator
Ronald Reagan ... Himself (archive footage)
Barack Obama ... Himself (archive footage)
Queen Elizabeth II ... Herself (archive footage)
Michelle Obama ... Herself (archive footage)
John F. Kennedy ... Himself (archive footage)
George W. Bush ... Himself (archive footage)
Bill Clinton ... Himself (archive footage)
Nancy Reagan ... Herself (archive footage)
Jimmy Carter ... Himself
Hillary Clinton ... Herself (archive footage)
Dick Cheney ... Himself
Richard Nixon ... Himself (archive footage)
Al Gore ... Himself (archive footage)
Chelsea Clinton ... Herself (archive footage)


He is the president's most powerful advisor and closest confidant. The White House chief of staff shapes the president's agenda, and turns his policies into reality--or disaster. He passes judgment on the president's noblest ideas and his riskiest schemes. "He is the one person besides the president's wife," says Donald Rumsfeld, Gerald Ford's ex-chief, "who can look him right in the eye and say, 'no, you cannot go down that road, trust me, it's a mistake.'" And because he rarely talks about his role--what happens in the Oval stays in the Oval--the chief of staff is the keeper of the president's secrets. Until now. Featuring exclusive interviews with all 20 living White House chiefs of staff and two presidents, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, The Presidents' Gatekeepers explores the fascinating and untold story of this unique fraternity and the presidents they serve. Epic in scope, spanning 50 years and nine administrations, it is an unprecedented series that pulls back the curtain... Written by discovery

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Plot Keywords:

u.s. president | politics | See All (2) »







Release Date:

11 September 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The World's Toughest Job See more »

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User Reviews

13 September 2013 | by martinkwangjuSee all my reviews

I was very disappointed with this documentary. Lots of jump-cuts and other dated attempts at looking "hip." 95% form and 5% substance. PBS does this kind of thing so much better. The Discovery Channel should stick to Bigfoot and UFOs in the future. They squandered a wonderful opportunity here. The NYT was spot on in their review. "What is on paper a tour de force of access filmmaking makes quixotic and lumpy and directionless use of that access. The film jumps eras willy-nilly, and never settles on a narrative of how the role of chief of staff has evolved over the years. There is no one way to do the job — there's the cheerful grace of James A. Baker III, or the mercurial flamboyance of Rahm Emanuel — but there is little reflection on what approaches have been more successful than others. This film is content to have done the heavy lifting in hooking its subjects for bluntly filmed talking-head interviews — anything more is gravy. "

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