This 90-minute documentary film tells the story of the man historians have dubbed the most powerful Vice-President in the history of the United States. The Vice-President recounts the story in his own words, reflecting on his modest upbringing in Casper, his lifelong high-risk heart problems, and his assessment of the world leaders he dealt with. In intimate detail, he recalls the attack on September 11, 2001 that shook the world, and reveals details of the crisis never told before. Other voices lend perspective - Wyoming friends who have known Dick Cheney his entire life, journalists critical of his grip on the levers of power, and first-hand observers of his near half a century in politics and government. From this emerges a full-rounded portrait of one of the most powerful men of the last century - who escapes the world's scrutiny and controversy still today the way he did as a young man: with a fly rod on a Wyoming river.
Executive Producer: Ruby Calvert; Producer/Writer: Geoff O'Gara; Associate Producer: Virginia Moore; Director of Photography: Kyle Nicholoff; Additional Videography: Peter Mallamo; Editor: Kyle Nicholoff
We sat outdoors in Washington, D.C., at Johnny’s Half Shell one evening last week with the monsoon rains cooling off the summer-baked Capitol just south of us. Our three-person crew was in the nation’s capital on a shoot for a Wyoming PBS documentary about Vice President Dick Cheney, and we were joined by a D.C. journalist I’ve known for over 30 years. I left Washington in 1979 (I must have been about 5 years old, eh?), but my colleague at Capitol Hill News Service, Mike Isikoff, stayed on, and eventually broke some big stories for the Washington Post, Newsweek, and NBC. Read more...
Making a documentary about Vice-President Dick Cheney, you know you’ll have to go to Washington, D.C., for archival research, b-roll and interviews. With Wyoming PBS shooter Kyle Nicholoff, I spent May 26-30 in the capital, and suffered the expensive frustrations that come with this kind of work, and these kinds of people. Read more...
[October 16, 2015] - In a new documentary from Wyoming PBS former Vice President Dick Cheney talks candidly about his youthful missteps, the Bush Administration’s internal battles, and new revelations of how close Al-Qaeda came on 9/11 to striking the Capitol or the White House.
In “Dick Cheney: A Heartbeat Away”, which airs on Wyoming PBS Friday, November 13 at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Cheney forcefully defends the Bush administration’s War on Terror, both in the Middle East and on American soil. “Things change; time travels on,” he says. “It’s up to me and others who participated to explain what we did and why.”
The 90-minute documentary delves deep into Cheney’s roots in Wyoming, where his father, a Democrat working for the New Deal Soil Conservation Service, moved the family from Nebraska in 1947. Cheney talks about dropping out of Yale University and his struggles with alcohol while working as a power lineman in Wyoming.
"Naturally enough, in this documentary we've devoted a lot of attention to his upbringing in Wyoming, but we are always thinking, as we must, of the decisions he made as Vice President - because that's what he'll be remembered for,” said producer Geoff O’Gara.
With the help of Lynne Vincent Cheney, whom he married in 1964, Cheney turned his life around. He was elected to Wyoming’s sole seat in the House of Representatives, rose quickly in Republican leadership ranks, and became Secretary of Defense in 1989 under President George H. W. Bush.
Cheney suffered the first of four heart attacks during his first run for Congress, when he was 37-years old. The documentary chronicles a life-long battle with heart disease, culminating in a heart transplant in 2010. Now 73, Cheney lives an active lifestyle, writing, traveling, spending time with family, and picking up a fly rod whenever possible.
The former Vice-President submitted to over 15 hours of interviews with O’Gara. "The Cheney's didn't just sit for interviews - they agreed to give Wyoming PBS complete editorial control, and that can't be easy when you feel you've been demonized by the press,” said O’Gara. Childhood friends and early political allies talk about the forces that shaped him. Close observers of his public life – including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, and author Bob Woodward – join the debate over his role in the world-shaping events of the early 21st century.
Cheney offers his own insights into the controversial policies he advocated, while wryly acknowledging that he was labeled “the vice president of torture” by opponents. “The Vice President let me know there were things he'd rather we didn't feature in the story”, said O’Gara. “But he cooperated fully in many hours of interview, he was always cordial and often funny, and we got those family photos. And some of the things he didn't want in the documentary are, indeed, in it."
Wyoming PBS is a non-commercial, educational institution and cultural resource dedicated to connecting and enriching Wyoming lives through innovative media. Wyoming PBS can be found on various channels across Wyoming, online, and on ROKU, Xbox, and Apple TV over-the-top devices. For more information, check local listings, or go to www.wyomingpbs.org for a complete schedule of channel numbers and distribution platforms.