1 BILL CLINTON has always been able to count Hollywood liberals among his staunchest supporters, but for certain sectors of the movie industry, the most fascinating aspect of the presidential scandal is its box-office potential. Two new political satires, Barry Levinson's funny and shamelessly cynical Wag the Dog and Mike Nichols's forthcoming Primary Colors, could well benefit from what amounts to a massive (not to mention free) publicity campaign - unless, of course, audiences tire of a story that refuses to go away, or (more likely) express a preference for real over mostly fictional sleaze. In Wag the Dog (which reaches Britain next month), a Washington spin doctor (Robert De Niro) joins forces with a blustery Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) to divert media attention from the (unnamed) President, who has been accused of molesting a 13- year-old girl in the Oval Office. (Their solution: orchestrate a war against Albania.) Bolstered by good reviews, the film has already more than recouped its modest $20m budget after only a month in release.

1 Based on Joe Klein's roman-a-clef (a thinly disguised account of Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign), Primary Colors was already among the most talked-about films of the new year before the Lewinsky story - and Wag the Dog - broke. According to the New York Post, a sex scene between Emma Thompson and Adrian Lester (whose characters are intended to resemble Hillary Clinton and a black George Stephanopoulos) was dropped after rough- cut screenings. The question now is if Universal Pictures will risk widespread condemnation and move up the film's 20 March release date to cash in on the feeding frenzy.