Call it C-SPAN Cribs. For its upcoming "White House Week," beginning Dec. 14 with the 90-minute documentary The White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home, the public-affairs network will take viewers inside the house at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Mark Farkas, a 24-year C-SPAN veteran, and his production team spent a year and a half filming there guided by outgoing First Lady Laura Bush. On the first walk-through, the crew of three was outnumbered 6-to-1 by a phalanx of administration personnel, including electricians, West Wing staff, the First Lady’s staff and, of course, the ever-present Secret Service.
Not only did Secret Service accompany Farkas’ team on every shoot, it had final approval on all material, a privilege it exercised only once—when C-SPAN CEO and on-air host Brian Lamb asked Mrs. Bush where in the White House the detail is stationed.
"She was more than willing to tell us exactly where they were," Farkas recalls. "At that moment, I looked at the Secret Service guy who was with us, and he just shook his head. We knew that that would not make the final cut."
Although Mrs. Bush granted C-SPAN cameras unprecedented access to the private residence, two spots were off-limits: the master bedroom and the pool.
"I guess Laura didn’t want to be seen in her swimming suit!" Farkas jokes. "I was never given a clear reason by the First Lady’s office. I asked them to reconsider, but no go."