A Warning About a Witch Hunt: A TCA Tale

Harry Thomason, the TV producer (“Designing Women”) and friend to President Clinton said he got a call just before the former Arkansas governor was sworn the White House from an adviser in the George H.W. Bush administration who was also from Hollywood.

It was from Jerry Weintraub, the Hollywood producer, he told reporters at a PBS session on the “American Experience” bio film on Bill Clinton that premieres next month.

According to Thomason, Weintraub told him “ ‘There are a couple things that I thought the President thought I ought to call and tell you.’ And I said, ‘OK.’ And he said, ‘Well, first of all, you’re going to be investigated by every group that’s in Washington Congress, Senate. You’ll probably appear before a grand jury.’ And I said, ‘OK. What’d I do?’ And he said, ‘They’re going to end up with all of your records,’ and said, ‘It’s just going to be horrible.’

And I said, ‘Jerry, why?’ And he said, ‘Well, because I went through a lot of this stuff. And President Bush, he likes you and Linda, and he thought I ought to just call and warn you, you know,’ and ended the conversation. And it’s funny. I would hear somebody mumble something in the background, and I think it was President Bush telling him some other horrible thing to tell me that was gonna happen to me.”

Funny thing, Thomason said, “All the horrible things he said happened: We were sued. We were in controversy. I mean, it just it never let up. I mean, they subpoenaed everything we had.”

Thomason said he called Weintraub back two and a half years later, and recounted that conversation as well.

“This cranky voice comes on: ‘Hello?’ And I say, ‘I understand.’  And he said, ‘Harry, I’ve been wondering when you were going to call.’”

Thomason said he was confounded by the fact that some of those who did the most investigating on grand juries ended up trying to get him to show them around Hollywood or gossip about the stars.

“I always thought that was this is horrible, but I found out, well, that’s just the way things are in Washington. You know, in Hollywood, they stab you in the back and run away. In Washington, they stab you in the front and wait for you to die to see the expression on your face.”

“Clinton” airs on the PBS series “American Experience” Feb. 20 and 21.

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