CNN’s Howard Kurtz Does Not Play Himself in the Movie ‘Knife Fight’

By Alex Weprin 

CNN “Reliable Sources” host and Newsweek/Daily Beast Washington Bureau chief Howard Kurtz is ready for his close-up. Kurtz recalls in a post a trip he took to San Francisco to appear in the upcoming movie “Knife Fight,” a film which “examines the bloody backstage tactics of electoral politics.”

TV news anchors and personalities regularly appear in feature films. Their appearances help lend an aura of believability to fictional news reports.

Kurtz however, despite having a show on CNN and being a former staff writer at The Washington Post, is tasked with playing a blogger:


We do the bare-bones scripted version of the scene, which involves her leaking a story for my blog and me insisting that the material be exclusive. After having practiced it endless times, I blow the line only once.

Now Guttentag encourages us to forget about the script and ad lib the scene. During an earlier chat, I had casually used a raunchy term and he seized on it, encouraging me to work it into my brief burst of dialogue. (Hey, I’m not giving away everything in advance.)

Jamie and I try it a couple of times. She seems a bit low-key and I’m trying to exude the swagger of a self-important blogger. She reads me and adds a little punch to her lines. Guttentag gently tells me that I laughed too long at one of her comments. We run through it a few more times.

When I deliver the suggestive line, the diner staff laughs—that’s good, right?—and after a half-dozen tries, I get a smoldering look from Jamie Chung. I regard this as a small triumph in my brief and now-concluded acting career. I just hope it doesn’t end up on the cutting-room floor.