New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter on Monday defended Hollywood and the new HBO movie "Game Change," a hit job on the 2008 vice presidential campaign of Sarah Palin based on the book by liberal reporters John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. In "Rogue, Rube or G.O.P. Star: Portraying Palin," Stelter defended Hollywood from "conspiracy theories" that the movie is meant "to undermine a future run for president by Ms. Palin" (as if Hollywood liberals wouldn't love to have it accomplish just that).
Stelter also vigorously defended the movie-makers choice to focus solely on Palin at the expense of the portions of the book devoted to the bloody Democratic primary tussle between Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But it doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to realize that overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic movie-makers would prefer the "Palin is an ignoramus" parts, rather than the parts that might have made Hillary and Obama look petty.
“Game Change” the book is an authoritative 448-page retelling of all 500 or more days of the 2008 presidential campaign. “Game Change” the film, to be shown by HBO on Saturday night, is a reconstruction of the two months when Sarah Palin was running for vice president on John McCain’s ticket.
The difference between the two has sparked conspiracy theories among conservative allies of Ms. Palin, who comes across in both the book and the film as woefully unprepared for the campaign and for the vice presidency. The film, they assert, was conceived by Hollywood liberals to undermine a future run for president by Ms. Palin, who has pre-emptively attacked the film as a work of fiction, though she says she has not seen it.
Others also have questioned the focus on Ms. Palin, among them the conservative columnist Byron York, who wrote last month, “Why did Hollywood focus on only one-half of ‘Game Change’? The other half would have made a great movie.”
The answers are numerous -- and probably disappointing to conspiratorialists. “There were a number of films in the book,” said Len Amato, the president of HBO Films. “Our job was to zero in on the best one.”
HBO at first tried to translate the hard-fought primary campaign between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton into movie form, but the script for it was unwieldy (and the prospect of casting an actor to play a sitting president was noxious to some people involved). On the other hand, the selection of Ms. Palin, then governor of Alaska, as a vice presidential candidate was compact enough for a two-hour movie.
Times Watch can name at least two movies starring the character of President George W. Bush released during his presidency: "W," by Oliver Stone from 2008, and "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay" the same year. Where was the "noxiousness" back then? As for screenplay concerns, one can easily imagine a higher aesthetic standard being applied to a treatment of the Obama-Clinton race than one that makes fun of Palin, who is reviled in Hollywood circles.
Mr. Plepler and Mr. Amato denied that the film had a political agenda or that its release during the 2012 Republican primaries had any strategic purpose. Although no evidence exists to suggest otherwise, they know the accusations will be made. In a Fox News interview on Saturday, Ms. Palin cast the film as a product of a “pro-leftist, pro-Barack Obama machine,” and added, “Hollywood lies are Hollywood lies.”
Stelter relayed more convenient-sounding excuses as to why no one would possibly want to watch two Democrats tearing into each other on HBO:
HBO did, and had an Obama-Clinton script commissioned, but it did not satisfy the people involved. “I found it to be very interesting, compelling, but it just seemed like it needed a mini-series to cover it all,” Mr. Roach said.....Furthermore, he thought, the tension between Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton was just as evident in public as it was in private, spoiling some of the thrill for viewers who had already watched the campaign play out on television. But in the Palin chapters, he said, “what was happening behind the scenes was 10 times more amazing than what was happening in the public eye.” When he reread the chapters after Mr. Roach’s call, “I was amazed by how beautifully it was going to beat out as a movie.”