fake warren g. harding biopic

The battle for late-night TV domination has been an ongoing one, but I think John Oliver has just taken the cake. At least for this round of “who can make the best joke about the closure of a wax museum of past presidents?”

John Oliver can. By buying five wax mannequins and recruiting four Academy Award nominees to star in a dramatic trailer for his fake Warren G. Harding biopic. And getting Anna Kendrick and Laura Linney to fight for the love of a creepy life-size replica of Warren G. Harding.

Here’s John Oliver’s Warren G. Harding trailer from the most recent episode of Last Week Tonight:

It was a sort of inside joke among the political TV circuit after Gettysburg, Pennsylvania’s Hall of Presidents and First Ladies wax museum closed its doors in late 2016, auctioning off its collection of wax presidents. The auction was successful, gaining famous buyers like Rachel Maddow, who showed off her replica of Dwight Eisenhower on The Rachel Show; Stephen Colbert, who wanted Martin Van Buren but got Zachary Taylor; and Jon Stewart, who bought Zachary Taylor — seemingly to spite Colbert.

But none of them could outdo Oliver, who bought a whopping five presidential wax figures, including Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, William Henry Harrison, and Warren G. Harding, in a collection which he dubbed “The Last Week Tonight Hall of Dubiously Lifelike Wax Commanders-in-Chief.”

But Oliver was most excited about Harding, whose infamous sexual exploits would be enough for an award-winning biopic, Oliver said.

“The fact is Harding had an incredible life story, and it’s a shame that no one has made a major motion picture of it,” Oliver said. “The problem is who would do it? It would have to be someone with way too much time on their hands, way too many resources, and unfettered access to a life-sized wax replica of former President Warren G. Harding.”

What followed was a surprisingly high-budget fake trailer for a biopic called Harding, for which Oliver recruited Linney as Harding’s wife and Kendrick as Harding’s mistress, along with James Cromwell, Michael McKean and Campbell Scott. There’s a scene in which Kendrick flirts and seduces the stoic wax mannequin which you can never burn from your eyelids, and plenty of hilarious moments in which Linney and Cromwell tearfully yell at and scold the unresponsive Harding. It’s the best comedy you can achieve with a life-sized wax replica of the 29th President of the United States.

The trailer, embedded at the top of the post, starts at the 4:33 mark.

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