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Press Release

American Cultural Center Presents the Video Series: "The American President"

PR0415E | Date: 2004-03-19

On March 25 (Thursday), the AIT American Cultural Center will begin screening, "The American President." This 10-hour epic series, written, produced and directed by Philip B. Kunhardt, Philip B. Kunhardt III, and Peter W. Kunhardt, tells the story of the nation from the perspective of the highest office in the land, and features exclusive interviews with President Clinton and other former living presidents. The story of the presidency is history on a scale that is heroic and personal. The 10-episode program is the first documentary series to profile all 41 former American presidents.

The first part, "A Matter of Destiny," consisting of two episodes - " Family Ties" and "Happenstance" - will be shown on March 25 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The remaining eight episodes will be shown every other week on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for the next two months. The program schedule with episode summaries is as follows:

* 3/25 (Thurs.) 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. A MATTER OF DESTINY

Episode One: Family Ties -- Profiled are John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Harrison, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Power and influence, even in a democracy, are handed down from generation to generation and several privileged families have returned to the White House as though born to it. Two of the four presidents were ill at ease with their lofty legacies and struggled as presidents, while the remaining two flourished in the exercise of power.

Episode two: Happenstance -- Profiled are John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur and Harry Truman. These five presidents moved from the Vice Presidency to the White House on the death of the president. What happens when a man takes power that he inherits?

* 4/8 (Thurs.) 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. POLITICS AND THE PRESIDENCY

Episode Three: An Independent Cast of Mind -- Profiled are John Adams, Zachary Taylor, Rutherford B. Hayes and Jimmy Carter. These four presidents pursued a course that took little account of political affiliation; to be president, in essence, without being politicians. They all had difficult presidencies, and neither of the two who sought a second term was granted one.

Episode Four: The Professional Politician -- Profiled are Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson. This episode traces the presidencies of four political professionals, one of whom was a great statesman. When political parties began to find their way to the White House, the skills necessary for political success can be helpful to a president, but they are not sufficient to guarantee success in the office.

* 4/22 (Thurs.) 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. EXECUTIVE VISION

Episode Five: The American Way -- Profiled are Thomas Jefferson, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Ronald W. Reagan. The four chronicled in this episode may have understood the special character of America in different ways, but in each case a belief that there was a distinctly American way of doing things guided their decisions.

Episode Six: The World Stage -- Profiled are James Monroe, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson and George Bush. The president has no greater responsibility than representing the USA on the world stage. Securing a stable world is also a basic part of the president's job description. These four men engaged in this task at critical times and their achievements on the world stage are their most durable legacy.

* 5/6 (Thurs.) 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. THE CANDIDATE

Episode Seven: The Heroic Posture -- Profiled are George Washington, William Henry Harrison, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower. From the beginning, the presidential office has beckoned to national heroes renowned for their selfless service to their country. The president-as-national hero exemplifies the value we all place on authenticity in governance. This episode explores four personifications of the ideal.

Episode Eight: Compromise Choices -- Profiled are Franklin Pierce, James A. Garfield, Warren Harding and Gerald R. Ford. These four candidates were chosen because they were less offensive to some voters than those who might have been the best ones. Two of these men found the presidency beyond their powers, the other two proved themselves worthy of having been called to the highest office in the land.

* 5/20 (Thurs.) 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. AN OFFICE AND ITS POWER

Episode Nine: Expanding Power -- Profiled are Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Richard M. Nixon. These four presidencies are benchmarks in the development of executive power. Three stretched the office to its constitutional limits and the fourth overstepped those limits and brought on a new era of presidential weakness.

Episode Ten: Balance of Power -- Profiled are James Madison, James Polk, William H. Taft and William J. Clinton. This final episode examines presidential leadership in an era of an increasingly divided government. The presidents arrayed here suggest four different conceptions of governance within a large system of institutions.

Relevant books and materials will be displayed in the American Cultural Center Resource Service, adjacent to the multi-purpose room, during the programs.

The American Cultural Center is located at Suite 2101, 21F, International Trade Building, No. 333, Keelung Road, Section 1, Taipei. The video program is open to the public without charge. Pre-registration is suggested to ensure a seat and an information packet on the relevant episodes. To indicate your interest, or obtain more information including a schedule of the series, please contact Mr. Morris Huang at 02-2723-3959 ext. 215 or Ms. Vicky Tsao ext. 283; fax 2725-2644; e-mail: