George Clooney takes a look at Washington lobbying

NEW YORK - A new television series produced by George Clooney is winning praise from critics and US politicians for lifting the lid on the world of Washington lobbyists.

'K Street' is showing on Sunday nights on HBO, the maverick broadcaster behind programmes including 'Six Feet Under', 'Sex and the City' and 'The Sopranos'.

Set in a fictional lobbying agency on Washington's K Street, it blurs reality and fiction by starring real-life lobbyists James Carville, who worked on Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992; Mary Matalin, an adviser to George W Bush until recently; and Michael Deaver, vice-chairman of the PR firm Edelman and executive vice-president and director of corporate affairs at its Washington DC office.

It is produced by Clooney, who as well as being an actor, director and producer, is making a mark for his outspoken political views, as well as Steven Soderbergh, the acclaimed director of films including 'Ocean's Eleven' and 'Sex, Lies and Videotape'.

"If we do it right I think we'll make a hell of a show. If we don't, you'll let us know," Clooney said.

'K Street' is created with little advanced production or scripts, with writers looking to the Sunday papers to determine the events covered in the next week's episode. The website features polls on recent news events that might feature in upcoming episodes.

Reports say that the programme has hit a spot with lobbyists, who say that it is a realistic portrayal of the goings-on in Washington.

But it has not been a hit with all the critics. USA Today described the premiere episode, which featured Democrat presidential hopeful Howard Dean, as "pointlessly rambling" and the Chicago Tribune said that it was as "close to reality as 'M*A*S*H' was to a real war zone".

However, the show appears to be hitting some of the right buttons, with the launch party attended by Washington luminaries such as Ari Fleischer, formerly the press spokesman for George W Bush, and the programme makers being banned from filming in the Senate.

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