Palin documentary 'The Undefeated' scores success in unexpected (liberal) places (VIDEO)

To the chagrin of Hollywood and anti-Palin skeptics, Photo: AP

CHICAGO, July 25, 2011—Lipstick-wearing pitbulls everywhere, get ready to pop your champagne corks; Palin Power has done it again.

Sarah Palin speaks to the Tea Party Express.

To the chagrin of Hollywood industry skeptics and Palin-haters alike, it was another big weekend for “The Undefeated.”  In its opening weekend July 15-17 in limited theatrical release in 10 cities, the Stephen Bannon-directed film has defied expectations selling out showings to score an average $6500 per screen and more than $11,000 per screen in top markets.

Predictably, the mainstream media have been on the attack. Gunning for the film at every turn. Using every headline to pepper the news cycle with innuendo.

“Sarah Palin Movie Debuts to Empty Theater in Orange County” was the headline at But as Christian Toto of the Washington Times has pointed out, this was based on the experience of a lone political blogger at a single midnight showing of the film. Not many political documentaries would clock well at the witching hour. Still, the story was picked up by, and the Los Angeles Times. 

Other outlets have taken their potshots as well. Entertainment Weekly proclaimed, “Sarah Palin’s ‘The Undefeated’: We saw it so you don’t have to.” Huffington Post chimed in, “Box Office Bomb: Sarah Palin and the Failure of ‘The Undefeated.’”

But we aren’t talking Captain America or Harry Potter here. A conservative political documentary requires a different measure of success. And this indie underdog film has been scoring unexpected successes - and fans - in decidedly liberal places.

After a five-city expansion, the film made its Chicago debut Saturday to a packed house at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Yes, I said, “Chicago.”

This is the Sarah Palin documentary, right? Remember, Sarah Palin? The hockey mom of five whom comedian Bill Maher referred to “inbred weirdos straight out of ‘Hills Have Eyes.’” The former Alaskan governor woman liberal progressives love to hate?

Sunday’s left-leaning Chicago Sun-Times led its story coverage with a post-film recap called, “Film Drives a Stake into ‘Caribou Barbie’ for one Dem.” The “one Dem” was Eddie Bryant, a retired 67-year old Union Pacific employee of African American-descent. “People say this lady is brainless,” said Bryant. “She’s not only smart, but she’s a clean-government person. I gained respect for her.” And Bryant’s not the only one.

Legendary film critic Roger Ebert, a passionate political liberal, called the film “A Documentary for Palin Lovers.” A powerful industry voice, Ebert could have maligned the film; he didn’t. If Hollywood hasn’t uttered a collective “wow” by now, it should. 

After years of Palin-bashing, these cracks in the mainstream media plaster would seem to be an anomaly. But they are not. Even last week’s Newsweek cover story on Palin had a kinder, gentler take on the former governor giving conservatives a serious case of whiplash.

Director Stephen Bannon isn’t surprised about the film’s unusual success, which he attributes to the unique charisma of Gov. Palin and the rise of the Tea Party as a legitimate ground-up movement.

“I just think the rise of the Tea Party movement as epitomized by Governor Palin is one of the most important stories of our time and I want to be the guy that tells the story of it,” says Bannon. “This is my fourth film related to the Tea Party movement and I will keep making them because I think it is a major turning point in our country’s history.”

But there’s more.

In addition to a continued theatrical expansion, ARC Entertainment has just announced plans for a multi-platform roll-out of “The Undefeated.” Starting Sept. 1 with Direc TV, DISH Network, and Time Warner cable, the film will be available in 75 million homes via Pay-Per-View and Video on Demand access backed by a multi-million dollar marketing campaign. The DVD will launch Oct. 4 at retailers nationwide. A “Special Edition” DVD with new content will be sold exclusively through Walmart stores.

“Since the film opened in select markets across the country on July 15th we have been inundated with requests from people wanting the film to be made available in their market, said Trevor Drinkwater, CEO of ARC Entertainment.

“It’s very exciting,” says Bannon.

Could it be that the some in the mainstream media are finally learning to accept Tea Party power and its challenge to the politics of the past? Or are they - the media - just now getting wise to how Palin and the Tea Party movement could be the ultimate thorn in the establishment GOP’s side?

Whatever the case may be, does Bannon think this political discussion is exactly what America needs most right now? And does he think Sarah Palin is the most visible symbol of that discussion?

You betcha.

Conservative satirist and commentator William J. Kelly and his wife, Laura, edit and manage the Tea Party Reports for the Washington Times Communities. Kelly also pens Bill Kelly’s Truth Squad and is a contributor to He is a native from Chicago’s Southside. Email questions to him at

Find Kelly on Facebook/Williamjpkelly

Follow Kelly at Twitter/williamjkelly


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Laura Kelly and William J. Kelly

The Tea Party Report is written and edited by Laura and William J. Kelly. Kelly also pens Bill Kelly's Truth Squad for the Washington Times.  Watch for his new website at We welcome all Tea Party leaders and enthusiasts to send us their news, opinions, and stories.

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