New York Times TV-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley reviewed "Recount," the HBO film about the controversial aftermath of the 2000 presidential campaign vote in Florida. 



HBO's 'Recount' movie which premiered Sunday night, and will re-run on Monday evening, certainly lived up to the admission of actor Kevin Spacey, who played Gore operative Ron Klain, that it presented the 2000 Florida election aftermath through the eyes of the “underdog” Democrats fighting to “count every vote” despite being frustrated by Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris who was portrayed as an easily-manipulated dolt. But Tom Wilkinson as James Baker came off as an in-command strategist and the movie delivered some anti-Democratic points rarely heard in the news media:
First, Bob Balaban, as Bush-Cheney lawyer Ben Ginsberg, reacting to Gore-Lieberman campaign Chairman Bill Daley whose father was Mayor of Chicago in 1960: “His daddy stole it for JFK and now he's going to steal it for Gore.” Second, from Wilkinson as James Baker: “Who knows how many votes we lost when the networks called Florida for Gore before all the polls were closed on election night.”

But the weirdest moment came in a scene of a protest held outside the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee. A man, holding a Bush-Cheney sign, chanted: “Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw have bald spots! Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw have bald spots!”

UPDATE: Weird, but close to reality. In 'Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency,' the 2001 book by Jake Tapper now with ABC News (Tapper's Political Punch blog), Tapper reported on page 139: “A guy with a sign saying 'God Made Bush President' appears. Another, hyping the Web site Newsmax.com, starts shouting out that 'Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw have bald spots.' This guy has a bald spot, too.”



With HBO's 'Recount' movie (airing Sunday and Monday night at 9 PM EDT/PDT) sure to rekindle claims that Al Gore would have won if only the U.S. Supreme Court had not “stopped the counting,” a reminder that both recounts conducted by major media outlets in 2001 determined George W. Bush would have won anyway. Two stars of the film have fueled the re-writing of history with actor Kevin Spacey, who plays Gore operative Ron Klain, charging that “the Bush people were trying to stop votes from being counted and the Gore people were just trying to get votes counted” while Laura Dern, who plays Katherine Harris, recalled that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling left her “devastated because there were uncounted votes.”

The lead of an April 4, 2001 USA Today story headlined, “Newspapers' recount shows Bush prevailed,” by reporter Dennis Cauchon:
George W. Bush would have won a hand count of Florida's disputed ballots if the standard advocated by Al Gore had been used, the first full study of the ballots reveals. Bush would have won by 1,665 votes -- more than triple his official 537-vote margin -- if every dimple, hanging chad and mark on the ballots had been counted as votes, a USA TODAY/Miami Herald/Knight Ridder study shows. The study is the first comprehensive review of the 61,195 "undervote" ballots that were at the center of Florida's disputed presidential election....
That look was followed in November by an analysis by a consortium of media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN and AP. It determined that George W. Bush still would have won under either legally possible recount scenario which could have occurred: The Florida Supreme Court ordered recount of undervotes statewide or Gore’s request for a recount in certain counties. The New York Times led its November 12, 2001 front page article, “Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote,” by reporters Ford Fessenden and John M. Broder:


Asked by Howard Kurtz on Sunday's Reliable Sources how she felt, “as a citizen,” when “the Supreme Court stepped in and essentially made George W. Bush President?”, actress Laura Dern, who plays Katherine Harris in HBO's Recount film to premiere tonight at 9 PM EDT/PDT, replied that “as a citizen, I felt devastated because there were uncounted votes” and “I left the experience with a real disillusionment about the process.”

Dern's personal view echoing the liberal/Democratic spin on what occurred matches the take expressed Wednesday by actor Kevin Spacey, who plays Gore operative Ron Klain in the movie: “It does seem that on the one hand the Bush people were trying to stop votes from being counted and the Gore people were just trying to get votes counted.”


It's not often that a denizen of Hollywood is so crass as to admit that they enjoyed using their film work as a bludgeon with which to beat up a living person, but Reuters is reporting that the folks that made the upcoming HBO film "Recount" -- and actress Laura Dern in particular -- really relished making at least one person look like an idiot. Apparently Dern really enjoyed skewering Katherine Harris, the former Florida Secretary of State responsible for certifying the 2000 general election results.

Reuters helpfully informs us that actress Dern is a "self-described liberal" who "loved portraying (Harris) in the new HBO movie." And, why was it so fun for our "self-described liberal" to portray Representative, then Florida Sec. of State Harris? Because they made her look "clueless about the workings of her office," of course.

So, how is Harris depicted?



An early review is in for HBO's upcoming movie, Recount, about the Bush-Gore battle in Florida after 2000 election. Gillian Flynn in Entertainment Weekly, which like HBO is part of the Time-Warner family, has described the film, to premiere next Sunday night, as tilted against the Republican characters.

In her review in the May 23 edition of the magazine, Flynn asserted: “Recount may not be downright blue, but it's not as purply as it wants to appear.” Saying “Recount is an underdog story, and thus a Democrat story,” Flynn reported that the “Republican players here are coolly calculating -- Tom Wilkinson's James Baker III, the Bush team quarterback -- or they teeter on the edge of madness, like Laura Dern's Katherine Harris.” In fact, in an interview elsewhere, the writer of the movie slammed Harris as “a fraud.” [Screen shot is of Dern as Harris]