WASHINGTON, DC—Making a bold statement of appeal to "the long-standing spirit of entrepreneurial enterprise in this great nation" Monday, President Bush challenged the U.S. entertainment industry to produce the perfect romantic comedy by summer 2009.
"My fellow Americans, it's time for another Sleepless In Seattle," Bush said in a special prime-time address to the nation. "America has the technology. We have the market-research capacity. We have the publicity engines, the screenwriting workshops, and the deal-making power. If we all pull together, we can create the perfect romantic comedy. And America will be able to hold its head high again."
Bush said the U.S. is "prepped to win this."
"By 2009, our best teen stars—potential giants like Lindsay Lohan and that guy who played Stifler—will be at the exact right age to appeal to the crucial 18-to-39 female demographic," Bush said. "No other nation approaches America's resources and capabilities in the area of romantic entertainment."
According to White House officials, recent efforts to create the ultimate romantic comedy, such as Fever Pitch, A Lot Like Love, and Little Black Book, have failed to generate much public interest domestically or internationally.
"It's been 15 years since we had a film as charming as Pretty Woman," Bush said. "These troubled times call for another film with the power to unite us. If we believe in ourselves and in the principles upon which this great democracy rests, we can create, distribute, and market a romantic comedy that will make us laugh and cry."
"We built the first intercontinental railroad," Bush continued. "We invented the electric light bulb. We even split the atom. It's time to remind the world what we're capable of: If we can put a man on the moon, we can make a man and a woman who appear to dislike each other intensely fall madly in love before the closing credits roll."
Dubbing his romantic-comedy initiative "Operation Meet-Cute," Bush proposed that Congress earmark $20 billion to aid Hollywood in creating the film. He called on studio heads to "put aside differences and pull together for the common goal," urging executives to "take the long view, and think of the sequel."
Bush proposed adding a special "romcom tax" to all movie tickets, in order to allow all Americans to "do their part for Hollywood and for their country."
The president also urged all able-minded citizens to "join the fight" by pitching ideas for humorous and touching scenarios.
"If you're not in Hollywood already, go west, young man!" Bush said. "We need you to dig in and create fresh plotlines in which celebrities fall in love under unusual, entertaining circumstances."
According to Will Greenberg, director of the White Knights, a Harvard-based think tank that has volunteered their services, fulfilling the commander in chief's orders will require much work.
"We need to see a heartbroken male lead lose the girl at the end of the second act, but maintain our sympathy, so we get the requisite goose bumps when he wins her heart again at the end of the third," Greenberg said. "We need fast-paced, witty banter, and a few well-executed sight gags."
"We also need one wacky sister, saucy coworker, or gay neighbor in whom the heroine can confide," Greenberg continued. "To really do this right, the secondary character needs to be slightly quirky, someone a bit less conformist than the female lead."
Via phone Tuesday, Bush offered additional words of encouragement.
"This may seem like an impossible dream, but it once seemed impossible that Harry and Sally would end up together," Bush said. "But they did. How? With American hard work, know-how, and ingenuity."
Added Bush: "Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston didn't give up. Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore didn't give up. The troops fighting for our freedom in Iraq haven't given up. Nora Ephron hasn't given up. And neither will this nation."