Based on notorious television producer Chuck Barris’ “unauthorized autobiography,” Clooney’s film reinforces Barris’ outlandish claim that he lived a secret life as a hitman for the CIA.
Sam Rockwell stars as Barris, a fresh-faced dreamer who moves to New York to find success in television. Pretty soon, he’s written a hit song (Palisades Park), has shacked up with the ultra-peppy Penny (Drew Barrymore), and has his first successful game show, The Dating Game. But as if that weren’t enough excitement, he is soon recruited by CIA Special Agent Jim Byrd (Clooney) to become a hired killer for the federal government. As Barris’ subsequent shows (The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show) take off, the conflicted producer uses them as a front for his undercover job, chaperoning winning couples all over the world while performing his deadly duties after hours.
Along the way, he meets a shady cast of characters– including a sultry assassin (Julia Roberts)–who threatens to blow his cover and ruin his television career forever.