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Live from Baghdad Reviews

There's never a dull minute in this made-for-cable adaptation of broadcast journalist Robert Wiener's first-person account of the rise of CNN. 1990: Six months before war with Iraq erupts, CNN executives dispatch a production team to the troubled country. Reporter Robert Weiner (Michael Keaton), known for getting results, campaigns to become the cable network's eyes in Baghdad. Weiner's brashness is balanced by his more restrained co-producer, Ingrid Formanek (Helena Bonham Carter), sound technician Judy Parker (Lili Taylor) and cameraman Mark Biello (Joshua Leonard). Unlike his impatient colleagues at the broadcast networks, Wiener is savvy enough to curry favor with of Iraq's Minister of Information, Naji Al-Madith(David Suchet). Weiner's crew airs government-approved footage of Iraqi president Sadaam Hussein (Jerry Haleva) entertaining an obviously frightened British child and CNN is raked over the coals by the rest of the press corps, but the undeniable fact is that they've been scooped. Iraqi authorities repeatedly boot out reporters, but never regard Weiner's crew as a threat; Naji even facilitates a special desert hook-up for Weiner's technicians. Weiner plays ball to get footage in Kuwait, where Iraqi soldiers are rumored to be slaughtering babies confined to incubators, but learns to his dismay that Naji controls what he can film. As the situation in Iraq reaches the boiling point, replacement anchors John Holliman (John Carroll Lynch) and Peter Arnott (Bruce McGill) join Weiner's economy-class team, unaware that they're about to make history. When the bombs begin to fall only CNN, with its Iraqi-sanctioned underground wiring, is able to broadcast. Their coverage of the Gulf War's beginning puts CNN on the global map. Working with Weiner, scripters Richard Chapman, Timothy J. Sexton and John Patrick Shanley explore the relationships of the TV crew and their symbiotic co-existence with Iraqi partisans; the cast is brilliant and director Mick Jackson keeps the story moving at a breakneck pace.