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Is Hugo Chavez Ready for his Hollywood Close-Up?

While last week’s United Nations General Assembly hosted a variety of world leaders espousing divergent messages, the sprawling diplomatic forum hosted one leader who could become Hollywood’s newest darling. And in perhaps a shocking change of pace, it’s not President Barack Obama. Yes, despite some of his unpopular ideas, Hugo Chavez is ready to become a movie star.

While some heads of state made international headlines with their time at the General Assembly, most notably Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s bizarre, rambling address, controversial Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s time in front of the U.N. delegations momentarily turned into a promotional plug for his upcoming film. In Chavez’s defense, the film’s director is Oliver Stone.

The documentary film, entitled “South of the Border,” was screened last week in New York and features interviews with Chavez as well as Bolivian president Evo Morales, who was also in town for the General Assembly. As part of his promotional push for the film, Chavez and Stone also recently descended on the Venice Film Festival, where Chavez appeared very much at home on the red carpet. While Chavez’s New York jaunt was actually part of a larger trip that included stops in Libya and Iran, the Venezuelan president has other high-profile screenings scheduled. So is the world ready for Hugo Chavez: the movie star?

Chavez certainly seems adept at the role. The cult of personality surrounding the controversial leader has drawn intrigue from a star-studded set, including actor Kevin Spacey and model Naomi Campbell. While neither celebrity will ever be mistaken for any of the heads of state who descended on the United Nations last week, Chavez has undoubtedly cultivated an iconic image well-suited for Hollywood.  Even Courtney Love has been drawn to the Chavez Express.

With a big upcoming film release, an unlikely growing fandom, and efforts to normalize relations with the Obama administration, Oliver Stone and Hollywood could potentially be giving us a kinder, gentler, if not exactly camera-shy Hugo Chavez. Granted, Family Guy was banned by Chavez in Venezuela, so the leader isn’t completely taken by all things Hollywood. And a number of the Venezuelan president’s initiatives have proven particularly polarizing, but with Stone as his sidekick (at least until the DVD release) and an increased celebrity following normally reserved for members of the Democratic Party, Hugo Chavez might be looking to a new career path. Ok, maybe not, but he still seems to love that red carpet.


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