by Charmie Gholson
Codirected by Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky, the 2002 documentary Horns and Halos focuses on the struggle of biographer Jim Hatfield and publisher Sander Hicks to republish and market the first unauthorized biography of George W. Bush. A drawling southern ex-con who had been writing fluffy life stories of movie stars, Hatfield thought he'd struck pay dirt with Fortunate Son. The "hard-hitting biography," first published in 1999 by St. Martin's Press, included some juicy details, mostly from undisclosed sources, about illegal dealings of the Bush family. Four days after its release, a Dallas Times reporter outed Hatfield as a felon, and the Bush family pressured St. Martin's to pull the book from stores. Although by then it had skyrocketed to number eight on Amazon's best-seller list, the publisher withdrew it from sale and burned the remaining copies. Hatfield's dreams collapsed, and his allegations about the Bushes disappeared.
Within weeks, Sander Hicks, a manic punk rocker and radical who at the time was president of Side Soft Skull Publishing, picked up the project. Hicks worked out of a cavelike building on New York's Lower East Side, where he was also a superintendent, and with the help of a former St. Martin's editor, the book went to press again in December 1999.
Through interviews with journalists and media critic Mark Crispin Miller, the film presents opposing views of Fortunate Son. Reporters question Hatfield's professionalism, and reviewers ignore the book, while Miller refers to it as a compelling guide to the Bush game plan for winning the presidency and says that it nicely profiles "the great glowering Nixon inside Bush as a dirty fighter." Legal reporter Catherine Crier suggests that Hatfield's sensational claim that Bush was arrested in 1972 for cocaine possession diverted attention from other, more serious charges he raises: illegal business dealings, insider trading, Dubya's draft dodging, and tampering with justice.
In a surreal moment, Hicks shows us George W. Bush's entire military file, obtained under the
Arts and Entertainment reviews and news.>> Blogs