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July 29th, 2013
07:15 PM ET

Diane Lane is Hillary Rodham Clinton in new NBC miniseries

The Clinton name has been in the national spotlight since as long as any 25-year-old can remember, starting with then-Governor Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992, his re-election campaign in 1996, then-Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2008, her cabinet appointment in 2009, the list goes on.

Now as the glare of 2016 lays in wait for Hillary Clinton's possible presidential campaign, Hollywood is seeking to capitalize on it all.

NBC announced Saturday that it will produce a four-hour miniseries – "Hillary" – based on the former first lady.

CNN films is also planning a documentary project on Hillary Clinton by Academy-Award winning director Charles Ferguson.

Actress Diane Lane is portraying Clinton on NBC. She was most recently seen as Superman's mom in "Man of Steel" this summer.

Perhaps more relevant, she played a secret service agent looking into a murder at the White House in the 1997 Wesley Snipes thriller "Murder At 1600."

This latest project will return Lane to that setting, with a different kind of scandal afoot – the one involving the president and Monica Lewinsky.

"Hillary" will begin in 1998, the year President Bill Clinton denied having had an affair with a White House intern, and was impeached by the House. NBC says the miniseries will begin at that period in time, and proceed through to the present.

"She's a compelling figure, she's polarizing sometimes, and she has been in the public eye for years, making controversial decisions," said senior TV editor for Variety magazine Brian Steinberg.

Lane is far from the first actress to portray Hillary Clinton.

Emma Thompson played a Hillary-like character in the film version of "Primary Colors," a fictionalized story based on the Clintons.

Saturday Night Live had comedienne Amy Poehler come face her character head on in 2008.

More recently, Sigourney Weaver stepped into pantsuits to play a strikingly familiar character in the 2012 miniseries 'Political Animals.' Weaver played Elaine Varrish, a powerful, divorced, former first lady. Close enough.

Of course, the real Clintons remain together, and at least one of them has given thought to who could best portray them in the movies. Bill Clinton sat down with Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein on CNN last year. Asked by Weinsten if Clinton would prefer George Clooney or Brad Pitt, Clinton replied, "Clooney's more my size. He's too handsome, you could put bulbus things on his nose."

Clinton chose Meryl Streep to play Hillary.

Another film – "Rodham' – is in pre-production now, and will show viewers the former Secretary of State as a young attorney working on the same impeachment laws that her husband would later face. Carrie Mulligan, Reese Witherspoon, and Scarlett Johannson are said to be in the running for the role.

"It's a very challenging project for any actor or actress to play this kind of, you know, larger than life personality, who's had a big hand in running the country, and the world," said Steinberg.

There are any number of potential problems with producing a film about a character who, in real life, may be trying to cast herself as commander-in-chief. Conservatives are suspicious that the NBC miniseries will be a puff piece that ultimately serves as an infomercial for a Clinton candidacy.

NBC said it will be "even-handed in terms of criticism and praise when it comes to dealing with Clinton and her work."

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