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Coming up on Connections: Monday, September 16

First hour: Examining the effects of populism on Ukraine's developing democracy

Second hour: Discussing "American Beauty" 20 years after its release

What happens when a television star is elected president? The question, this time, does not refer to Donald Trump, but to Volodymyr Zelensky, the newly elected president of Ukraine. The actor and comedian played Ukraine’s president on a satirical TV show, and despite no political experience, went on to win 73 percent of the vote in the runoff election. Political analysts say voters who were tired of war and economic hardship rallied behind him to push out the political establishment. Zelensky’s victory is the latest among political outsiders harnessing the power of media to spread a populist message. What does that mean for Ukraine’s developing democracy? Our guests discuss the situation in that country and the power of political rhetoric. In studio:

  • Olena Prokopovych, associate professor of political science at Nazareth College
  • Randy Stone, director of the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies at the University of Rochester
  • Grant Cos, professor of communication with a focus on rhetoric at the Rochester Institute of Technology

Then in our second hour, 20 years ago, the film “American Beauty” was released. It won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2000. Today, it is routinely mocked. The Little Theatre has been highlighting films from 1999, which was considered one of the great years in cinema history. How could the critics in the Academy have been so wrong about a movie that was supposed to be the best out of all of them? We reexamine suburban life, teenage angst, and the quest for meaning within the satirical film. In studio:

  • Vanessa Cheeks, organizer of the Anomaly Film Festival
  • Jack Feerick, critic at large for and former critic for Kirkus Reviews
  • Bri Merkel, artistic director for The Little Theatre
  • Scott Pukos, public relations coordinator for The Little Theatre, and organizer of the Little’s “Party Like It’s 1999” Series
Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.