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An American Daughter (2000)

A Senator's daughter seems to have a lock on a nomination as the US Surgeon General, until a background check reveals she once neglected to return a jury-duty notice. Then she makes a ... See full summary »


Sheldon Larry


Wendy Wasserstein (play), Wendy Wasserstein (teleplay)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Christine Lahti ... Lyssa Dent Hughes
Tom Skerritt ... Walter
Jay Thomas ... Timber Tucker
Mark Feuerstein ... Morrow McCarthy
Stanley Anderson ... Sen. Alan Hughes
Blake Lindsley ... Quincy Quince
Scott Michael Campbell ... Billy
Matt Weinberg ... Nicholas
Will Rothhaar ... Kip
Caroline Aaron ... Veronica
Teri Austin ... Greta
Karen Kim Karen Kim ... Hope
Cynthia Harris ... Charlotte 'Chubby' Hughes
Lynne Thigpen ... Dr. Judith B. Kaufman
Jane Carr ... Patient (Mrs Kramer)


A Senator's daughter seems to have a lock on a nomination as the US Surgeon General, until a background check reveals she once neglected to return a jury-duty notice. Then she makes a mistake in comments about her homemaker mother that leaves her open to a media blitz and her sure-fire nomination suddenly appears shaky. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis









Release Date:

5 June 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Trial by Media See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The original Broadway production of "An American Daughter" by Wendy Wasserstein opened on April 13, 1997 at the Cort Theatre and ran for 89 performances. Wendy Wasserstein also converted her stage play into a screenplay for this filmed production. See more »


References Charlie Rose (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

Worthwhile message. Strong cast. Catastrophically bad music.
3 August 2018 | by kitellis-98121See all my reviews

I actually stopped watching after the first 30 minutes or so, because the music was so appallingly bad. But after re-reading the blurb I decided to give it another try because the subject matter promised to be interesting. I'm glad I did, as this is a film that has a lot to say, and for the most part says it pretty well.

Yes, it is dated. The 4:3 aspect ratio and TV movie "look" make it feel like a relic from the 1980's, rather than something made in 2000, and the dialogue and directing are heavy-handed. The first half in particular is very stagey - no surprise since it is adapted from a stage play. But the storyline, which follows the media feeding-frenzy surrounding a female political nominee, continues to be relevant today as the media gets ever more viscous and out of control.

This film is actually far gentler to the media than they deserve, portraying them as kind and sympathetic off-air, while being somewhat harsh and hard-hitting on air - but only with the best of intentions (mostly), apart from a few gossipy tabloid types. Personally, despite some occasionally well-written dialogue and an eloquent rant at the end, I would have liked to see the media portrayed with less sympathy as the monsters that they are. But that's just personal taste.

The real strength of this piece is not the depiction of the media, but that of its central character, played with nuance and depth by the ever graceful Christine Lahti. As the beleaguered and embattled MD nominated for Surgeon General, whose accidental failure to respond to a jury summons in the distant past triggers a national character attack, Lahti underplays her role beautifully, overcoming occasionally leaden dialogue and sloppy direction to create a woman of dignity and integrity in the face of injustice and cruelty. It's a really good addition to her impressive body of work.

The rest of the cast also rise above the heavy-handedness of the piece to turn in honest and subtle performances, and add much needed depth to their potentially two-dimensional roles.

As an indictment of the media, this film does not go far enough. As a treatise on feminism, it probably does more harm than good. But as a character-driven drama, it is up there with the better quality TV movies out there. Nothing about it is particularly unique, ground-breaking, or even overly special. But it's a good way to fill 90 minutes if you're in the mood.

But by God, the music by Phil Marshall is awful. A gratingly loud and intrusive civil-war-era-military-band-styled-plinkety-plonkety nightmare, heavy on the piccolo and snare. It really couldn't be less appropriate to the subject matter and its effect is to catastrophically alter the tone of the entire piece from an intelligent political drama to a mindlessly un-funny sitcom. Truly dreadful. Shame on you, Mr Marshall!

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