JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WR
Don't call the new release Amazing Grace just another political thriller. What was once billed as an educational movie is fast becoming the model for bipartisanship. For weeks the hottest flick in the political and religious underground, Amazing Grace debuts at the White House this week, capping President Bush's focus on Black History Month. "We really think this is a wonderful movie that can inspire a new direction in Washington," says a Bushie.
"Our film shows the good that politics can do," says Erik Lokkesmoe, the film's project manager. Amazing Grace charts the effort of British politician William Wilberforce to end the slave trade 200 years ago with the help of an odd team that included former slave ship Capt. John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace after finding God. Former Rep. Floyd Flake, now the president of Ohio's Wilberforce University, thinks all his former House colleagues should see it. "They could learn a lesson from it," he tells us. Even though it doesn't hit theaters until February 23, Bush is late to the endorsement parade. A crowd from liberal Rep. John Lewis to conservative Sen. Sam Brownback and groups from the Humane Society to Focus on the Family have applauded it, prompting movie makers to almost yawn at the White House invitation. "We find that these kinds of invitations and opportunities are everywhere," says Lokkesmoe.