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'Lincoln' and 'Zero Dark Thirty' up for Oscars: Does Hollywood set US agenda? (+video)

Hollywood has long looked to political crises for dramatic inspiration. What is different, these Academy Award nominees show, is how much people in government are paying attention.

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With 12 Oscar nominations to its name, Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” has thrown sharp focus on the ways that the entertainment industry is fast becoming our unofficial fifth branch of government.

(Whether the news media, the Fourth Estate, is actually a fourth branch of government we can discuss another time!)

With President Obama ordering up a private screening of a new NBC sitcom, “1600 Penn,” about life in the White House, members of Congress calling for hearings on whether another Best Picture contender, “Zero Dark Thirty,” reveals classified data, and people hanging out at office water coolers chatting casually about the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation and whether or not Lincoln really needed to push for the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, Hollywood is helping set the political agenda for the nation in an ever bigger way, say media and political observers.


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