SAN DIEGO, March 10, 2012 – HBO continues its tradition of producing provocative docudramas about politics with the debut of the much discussed and anticipated “Game Change,” premiering Saturday night, March 10, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on HBO East and HBO Latino East (with Spanish subtitles); followed by airings on HBO West and Latino West at 9 p.m. Pacific Time. All four channels repeat the film three hours later.
HBO will repeatedly air “Game Change” through the weekend with two more showings on Sunday, March 11; plus showings nearly every day through March; and April 3, 7, 9, and 17.
“Game Change” will first be available via HBO On Demand starting on Monday, March 12. There is currently no date set for a DVD or Blu-Ray release.
The film is directed by Jay Roach, adapted from the nonfiction book of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin about the 2008 Presidential campaign.
Roach and Strong were also the creative team that produced the 2008 HBO movie “Recount,” about the 2000 presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore that resulted in the “hanging chads” nightmare. Laura Dern starred in the role of Florida secretary of state Katherine Harris, who found herself the subject of intense media attention due to the huge political controversy. Dern played Harris with a comic twist, and critics who have not seen “Game Change” believe the role of Sarah Palin as played by Julianne Moore may be treated the same way.
Not being subject to the pressure of finding a broad audience that will generate large numbers for a theatrical release, HBO has made a specialty of producing films that dramatically depict political and other current events.
In 2010, HBO aired “The Special Relationship,” examining the friendship between former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bill Clinton. It mixed archival news footage of fighting in Northern Ireland and the war in Kosovo with the Monica Lewinsky scandal, with intimate fictionalized scenes between Blair, played by Michael Sheen, and Clinton, played by Dennis Quaid.
The formula has paid off with Emmy-winning productions including “Temple Grandin,” “You Don’t Know Jack,” and “Too Big to Fail,” along with “The Special Relationship,” as well as longer form miniseries like “John Adams.”
In a panel discussion after a screening of the film on March 1 at Harvard, HBO Films president Len Amato explained how producers selected parts of the book “Game Change” to highlight in the film.
“There were lots of stories in the book, and we were initially interested in doing the Hillary and Obama story… but it didn’t really pop in a way that we felt was going to really gain momentum.
“The Palin story had all the elements that make a great story: a compact time frame, colorful characters, an underdog story—it has elements that are very relatable,” he said.
Screenwriter Strong said the Sarah Palin story is so fascinating because it’s the embodiment of the American dream.
In an interview with the website Collider.com, Strong said, “It’s a person that no one had ever heard of, including the people that picked her to be the vice presidential candidate, and then, overnight, becomes the candidate for Vice President of the United States and is potentially one heartbeat away from being President of the United States. It really is an only in America story, in which an individual who is unprepared for the national stage almost became president.”
Amato said that each possible project for HBO has to be judged on its own merits: first, whether the story itself is intriguing. Second, get the best possible scriptwriters. Third and most important, does a good script result?
Frank Doelger, a longstanding producer at HBO whose credits include the acclaimed Churchill docudramas “The Gathering Storm” and “Into the Storm,” as well as the Peter Morgan-scripted “The Special Relationship,” told Variety Magazine that HBO is a stickler for facts with their docudramas.
“They make sure you’re going to hire a writer and the proper consultants and researchers so that the story is going to be immaculately presented in terms of credibility and accuracy,” says Doelger. “They’re very concerned with journalistic integrity, and if you depart from the truth or the historical record in any way, they want to make sure it’s completely defensible.”
“We’re not slaves to the marketplace,” says Amato. “There’s a business aspect to HBO Films, but in terms of making artistic compromises, or casting considerations, or story choices, in order to get that big opening weekend, we’re free of that. We want our films to resonate culturally.”
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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