News & Politics

Next Up For Hollywood: Capitol Hill

With The West Wing and Commander in Chief both off the air, the executive branch is so last season.

Later this year, two documentaries are preparing to give C-Span competition as the official reality TV of the Hill.

The Sundance Channel will air The Hill in August, and the Oxygen Network is filming its own take on life inside the Beltway—but that doesn’t mean either show will feature old men in power suits. Directors say they have spotlighted DC’s real behind-the-scenes players: twentysomethings.

“It’s a young person’s game,” says Sundance director and former Hill staffer Ivy Meeropol.

Her documentary shadows Florida congressman Robert Wexler and his fresh-faced staff, offering what Meeropol calls a “microcosm of democracy.” And while the series focuses on cast members’ political work, Meeropol says their personal dramas—such as gay marriage and inter-party romances—abound.

Oxygen widened its focus beyond a single office, reaching out in casting calls to colleges, intern programs, nonprofits, and congressional offices, says Stephanie Steele, creator of the still-untitled pilot that began filming in June.

Casting directors interviewed more than 100 eager beavers before narrowing the field to five as-yet-unnamed young women—including a journalist, a press secretary, and a Young Democrat.

So why, when television audiences delight in skewering reality-cast members, would any aspiring politico immortalize his or her every move on film?

Two reasons: Any press is good press, and the documentary provides a platform for these young political movers and shakers that outweighs the risk of being the next Omarosa of the reality sector.