Investigative TV journalist Max Brackett (Dustin Hoffman) suffers setbacks and winds up filing routine reports from Madeline, California. Max and his eager intern Laurie (Mia Kirshner) are doing a story at the local Museum of Natural History when a bigger story erupts. The Museum's director, Mrs. Banks (Blythe Danner), refuses to talk to former museum security guard Sam Baily (John Travolta) about his firing due to budget cuts. Angered, Sam shoots a shotgun, accidentally hitting another security guard. Realizing he's in the middle of breaking news, Max phones his supervisor (Robert Prosky) and goes to live coverage. A class of young children is visiting the Museum, and Sam holds them hostage. Sam's link to the outside world is the opportunistic Max, who manipulates the situation, telling Sam what to say on camera. Within hours, as the event escalates to national interest, vendors arrive to hawk products at the museum grounds, while the entire country tunes in the ongoing coverage. The screenplay by Eric Williams and Tom Matthews (former managing editor of Boxoffice) is a technological updating of the 1951 Billy Wilder classic Ace in the Hole (aka The Big Carnival) about a scheming journalist (Kirk Douglas) who delays the rescue of a man trapped by a rockfall in order to continue his newspaper reports. Acknowledging the Wilder film, the name "Brackett" is an obvious nod to Charles Brackett, Wilder's long-time collaborator. Filmed in Los Angeles and San Jose, where the San Jose Athletic Club served as the museum location site. Shown at the 1997 Denver Film Festival.
- MPAA Rating: PG-13
- Genre(s): Drama,Action
- Run Time: 114min.
- Theatrical Release Date: 11/07/1997
- DVD Release Date: 03/31/1998
- Themes: Miscarriage of Justice,Members of the Press,Social Injustice,Fighting the System,Hostage Situations
- Tone: Austere,Gloomy,Tense,Bleak,Paranoid,Talky,Downbeat,Drab
accident, hostage, investigation, journalism, television
- Language: English