Gilded Age

Trump movie: A fun slide down America's decline

We got so much reaction to the press release sent us by the producer of Trump: What's the Deal? that we're republishing it here. Links to the trailer and the movie are below. You can see the whole movie for free. The trailer is very funny-- and of course fast-paced. Listening to the utterly unique voice of Peter Foges, the narrator, is quite an experience.

The movie is an often hilarious and often enraging look at  crony capitalism, runaway narcissism and materialism, much of it within a time capsule of '80s kitsch.

American civic life has been heading  ever deeper into the sewer, but it's sometimes a fun ride.



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Trump: What’s the Deal? is an investigative documentary that was completed in 1991 --- but has never been seen by the national audience it was made for.  Trump took great pains to suppress the film, threatening networks, distributors, and the filmmakers.

Producer Libby Handros says: “Now that Trump is running for president, it’s time for the American people to meet the real Donald and learn how he does business. The old Trump and the new Trump? They're the same Trump.”

“While much has been written on Donald, few know how he built his business,” she explains. “This documentary, which we made at great personal cost over three years, is filled with vivid and dramatic commentary by Trump insiders and prominent outside observers, who expose how he operated as he rose to national prominence.”


Trump has claimed to be a self-made billionaire. That’s the first myth this documentary punctures. Trump used his father's money and government connections in addition to taxpayer largesse to begin his empire.

“Donald is neither self-made nor anything like a true small-government conservative,” Handros says. “His father made huge profits off Federal Housing Authority loans, and with the help of his father’s friends in government, Donald used the same techniques to build what fortune he actually has.”


“We also launched one of the first investigations into Trump’s finances to reveal that he did not have nearly as much money as he says he did—a pattern of deception and aggrandizement that continues to this day,” Handros says. “Of all the damaging things we uncovered about Trump, that’s definitely the one that upsets him the most and led to him going after our film so hard.”


  • Trump’s mob-connected contractor used illegal immigrant labor, provided with no safety equipment, to demolish the building that stood in the way of Trump’s first signature building: Trump Tower.
  • Trump hired a company that specialized in psychological attacks and blackmail to move tenants out of a building he wanted demolished.
  • Trump was a major factor in the implosion of the United States Football League, and made a failed bid to “buy” Mike Tyson.
  • Trump was in bed with the Mafia to buy the land for his first casino, Trump Plaza; he had ongoing associations with known mob figures and drug dealers in Atlantic City.
  • Trump’s compulsion, then and now, to verbally abuse his wife and other family members as well as his colleagues and employees.
  • Trump bad-mouthed three top executives of his Atlantic City casinos after their death in a company helicopter crash, blaming them for the near collapse of his empire.
  • Trump’s manipulation and lying to the press… and their complicity in making him the force he is today.
  • Trump’s long battle to move the airport farther away from his mansion in Palm Beach.

And much, much more…

The film was a production of The Deadline Company and produced by Al Levin, an award-winning documentary film producer, (now deceased) and Libby Handros. When the film’s executive producer Ned Schnurman passed away, Handros inherited the piece.

Trump: What’s the Deal? was recently called “an unforgettable investigation into the mating of commerce, corruption and celebrity in America's latest Gilded Age. It explodes the Trump mythology and his presidential campaign with it.’’

To watch the trailer:

To watch the film:

Llewellyn King: Way up high with the 'Globotrash'

You and I live in houses, apartments, coops and condos and apartments. The super-rich -- or is it the mega-rich or the ultra-rich? -- live in residences. Well, they own them and sometimes they take up residence in one of their homes, so maybe the name is appropriate. In real estate speak, if it costs north of $5 million, it is a “residence.”

I get this not from the Oxford English Dictionary, but from the advertisements in The New York Times for living space in New York City. The city is one of a few places where the incalculably rich want to have a residence. And they shell out big bucks -- bucks beyond the dreams of common avarice -- to get a pad there.

Other cities where the rich feel at home are London, Monaco and Dubai. There is God Almighty-expensive real estate in Hong Kong and Mumbai (the world's most expensive), but not all the new billionaires want to live there. They want the best of the West.

The real estate rush comes from the new billionaires. Whereas it was once the super-rich of Europe, known as Eurotrash, who sought the marble and concierge life in Manhattan towers, it is now the unfathomably rich from China, India and Russia who have ushered in a new Gilded Age with more wealth than the Americans of the Gilded Age before World War I ever could have dreamed as they journeyed between Fifth or Park avenues and Newport, R.I.

Call them “Globotrash” -- and watch them push up prices for everyone, as real estate moguls buy old buildings in Manhattan and demolish them to build luxury towers that rise higher than 90 floors.

Central London has gone, as far as ordinary Londoners are concerned. They have to commute further and further to work in the neighborhoods where they once lived. New York City is not much better:  The Globotrash push out the middle class and the poor.

The skyline of Manhattan tells this new Gilded Age story: booming construction of spindly glass towers, so thin they seem even higher than their very real height.

Look in awe at 432 Park Ave., the luxury condo that stands at 1,396 feet, slightly taller than One World Trade Center. Or the stunning new “residence,” One57: It rises to 90 floors with prices from a paltry $6 million for a one-bedroom to a penthouse for a god at $94 million. Now, we are talking “residence.”

The principal selling point for these pieces of fanciful engineering is that you get a view of Central Park. It is all, apparently about, privacy and views. Well, Central Park is nice to look at, but it is not one of the wonders of the world.

As for privacy, wait a minute. While you might want to take in the views of Manhattan as you soak in one of the grand bathrooms' Carrara marble tubs, and then emerge in the buff to get another look at the views, for which you have paid so extravagantly, you had better watch out. I hear the paparazzi are getting camera-equipped drones. You see the park, and their cameras see you.

One57 has some of the best blue-veined marble ever quarried in Italy. In fact, there is so much of it in the building that an imaginative lawyer might be able to claim that it is a territorial extension of Italy. A part of Italy on Manhattan Island, Mamma mia!

And as the Globotrash are not known for their kitchen skills, it will be up to the imagination of New York City again to get another iconic Italian product, pizza, up there.

Llewellyn King ( is  executive producer and host of  White House Chronicle,  on PBS. 

Spoiled swimmers


"In the Pool'', by JANIS WISNIEWSKI, at Lexington Arts (Mass.) and Crafts Society.

It's now time for New England's brief outdoor swimming-pool season. Especially along the coasts, swimming pools were rare in the region until just a few decades ago. The idea was that it was more character-building and physically healthier to swim in the sea, and that pools were both too showy and too expensive for "prudent'' New Englanders. ("Prudent'' is a favorite and much parodied word used by George H.W. Bush, originally from Greenwich, Conn.)

But unfortunately, other than on  the south-facing costs of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, where the prevailing southwest wind pushes warm surface water toward the coast, and eddies of the Gulf Stream sometimes make an appearance, the coastal waters of New England are painfully cold for swimming. The Labrador Current rules.

When I was a kid, there were only two swimming pools in the coastal town (Cohasset, Mass.) we lived in. They were owned by two sisters who owned most of the stock of Dow Jones & Co. People tried to be very nice to them to get invitations.

But the influx of new money since about 1980 from the likes of Fidelity fund managers and biotech moguls had led to a proliferation of swimming pools in the town such that parts now look like Beverly Hills. Of course, the season is short for outdoor p00ls around here, even those with very powerful heaters. So some of these folks (as in the Hamptons) put in indoor ones, too, in their Gilded Age II mansions.