Movie To Honor Groundbreaking Tyler Reporter - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/12/03 - Tyler

Movie To Honor Groundbreaking Tyler Reporter

"Mr. President! Mr. President!"

They were just a few words, but spoken by Sarah McClendon's strong voice, they made history.

McClendon, a Tyler native who gained fame as a White House correspondent, passed away in January. She'll soon have her story carried over to the silver screen.

"She was so dedicated," daughter Sally MacDonald says, "and worked continuously to represent the people. She wasn't thinking in terms of being famous. She was thinking in terms of the people."

Saturday's Open House brought together her friends and family to talk about McClendon, who covered the White House beat for more than fifty years. She shouted out her questions to eleven Presidents, all of whom knew the diminutive Texan who served as the voice of the people.

"We have footage of them all calling out the name Sarah," explains Executive Producer Lyle Gregory. "Laughing at her, running from her, angry at her, amazed by her, saying 'Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.'"

It was her down-to-earth Texas roots that made McClendon popular with working people, people who normally wouldn't have a say in White House politics.

"She had intolerance for any type of subterfuge," scriptwriter and friend Jules Minton says. "Of course, she wouldn't call it that," he adds, laughing. "She'd use a plain old Texas word you could abbreviate with two initials."

"She always carried Tyler with her," Sally says. "It was the thought of the people here that compelled her to say 'The people have to know, the people have to be represented."

McClendon's story still inspires her fans and young journalists, and Gregory says it's a story with universal appeal.

"She was the true great character," he says. "She is as much a part of history and the White House as those first bricks that were laid there."

The project, called "Mr. President! Mr. President! The Sarah McClendon Story," has been in development for a decade. They plan to finish touching up the script this weekend with interviews with Sarah's relatives, and hope to start casting soon.

Reid Kerr (rkerr@kltv.com) reporting.

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