Politics & Polls #95: Behind the Big Screen

Jun 13, 2018
B. Rose Kelly
Woodrow Wilson School

The entertainment industry is an endless source of fascination among Americans. Movies and films offer keen insights into American society while also exposing its undersides. At the heart of the industry are writers, producers, and directors determining how to put these stories together.

In this episode, Julian Zelizer sits down with Bonnie Timmermann, one of the most prominent casting directors over the past four decades. Timmermann has cast nearly 100 eclectic films including “The Insider,” “Armageddon,” “Dirty Dancing,” “The Karate Kid,” “Black Hawk Down,” “Miami Vice,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Bill Durham,” “Quiz Show,” and many more.   

Timmermann began her career with Manhattan’s Phoenix Repertory Company in the 1970s. At that point, she casted then up-and-comers such as Meryl Streep and Christopher Walken. Over the years, she has worked with the likes of George Clooney, Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon and Al Pacino, among others.


Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is also a CNN Political Analyst and columnist for the Atlantic. He is the author of several books including, most recently, "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society," which was just awarded the DB Hardeman Prize for the Best Book on Congress. He has edited and authored 19 books on American political history and published over 700 hundred op-eds, including his popular weekly column on CNN.com.