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  1. Cinereach: "About the Film: In the summer of 1968, ABC News hired two great intellectuals to meet for televised debates during the presidential conventions. William F. Buckley was a leading light of the nascent neo-conservative movement-he’d founded the National Review in 1955. Gore Vidal was a leftist novelist and polemicist and a Democrat by heritage, a cousin to Jackie Onasis. Vidal and Buckley each thought the other’s political ideologies were dangerous, even catastrophic for America. Like rounds in a heavyweight battle, they slugged out policy, personal insult, and revisionist histories-staking out the opposing political positions that still resonate with the major parties today. As the talks devolved to heated and shocking name-calling, the debates defined the new era of public discourse in the media. These discussions beg the question still facing us today, 'What has television done to the way we talk about politics?'" The Commercial Appeal: "Gordon said the irresistibly rancorous debates, which boosted ratings for third-place ABC during the network’s coverage of the Republican and Democratic national conventions, have “ramifications on the media landscape that we know today. The culture wars we’re living in now were outlined and laid bare by these two very articulate and entertaining guys who hated each other.” (At one point, Vidal labeled Buckley a “crypto-Nazi,” while Buckley called Vidal “queer.”) For all their enmity and differences, the men led parallel lives that forked when it came to “their very different ideas about how society should work,” said Gordon, 53, whose books include “It Came from Memphis,” “Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters” and the recent “Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion.” Both men were patrician, highly educated, published authors, and “each represented a version of the other that they despised" ... Five years in the making, “Best of Enemies” traces its origins to a 2009 program of long-unseen Buckley/Vidal tapes screened at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art by Memphis author and publisher Tom Graves, credited as consulting producer on the new documentary. Graves had become fascinated by the debates, and he resurrected the 1968 debate footage and made many of the contacts that proved essential when Gordon’s interest in the material was piqued by the Brooks screening ... The way this documentary may hype or make a big deal out of all this worries me, but it will be interesting to see how they tell the story, particularly because both Buckley and Vidal did not act like today's modern TV pundits act, and both of them later wrote about how much they regretted the moment that their exchange became heated. More on this later ...
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