An AP report emerged today that former aides of Sarah Palin are bitterly speaking out against HBO’s upcoming film Game Change for its “sick” portrayal of the one-time Vice Presidential candidate. The network has stepped forward to say, “We stand by our movie and we hope that people will withhold any judgment until they have viewed the film.”
Game Change is based on the book of the same name by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, which follows the 2008 election just after John McCain tapped Palin to be his running mate. Screenwriter Danny Strong, who wrote HBO’s acclaimed 2000 election drama Recount, interviewed dozens of people close to the McCain-Palin campaign for his script. (Notably, Palin declined and McCain did not respond to several requests.) Strong also consulted news clippings and Palin’s own memoir Going Rogue, which was a study guide of sorts for Oscar-nominated star Julianne Moore, who plays Palin in the film.
Said HBO, “Game Change, the book, was applauded by audiences and pundits on both ends of the political spectrum when it was released in 2010. The events depicted in Game Change have been thoroughly sourced by not only Heilemann and Halperin’s bestselling book, but also through our own research including extensive first person interviews with those involved with the campaign.”
Today’s news finds former road operations manager Jason Recher, ex-spokeswoman Meg Stapleton, and former personal attorney Tom Van Flein claiming the film was inaccurate in its portrayal of Palin, then the governor of Alaska. None of them claim to have seen Game Change. Stapleton was particularly passionate, telling the AP, “They don’t want to hear anything good. We all know Palin sells and the dramatization of Palin sells even more. This is sick.”
She added, “They mock Gov. Palin… as weak and unable to cope and press forward. … And yet look with your own eyes at what she and her family have endured and inspired over the last few years. Any lesser man would have hanged himself by now.”
Director Jay Roach, who also teamed up with Strong on Recount, told EW recently, “This is not a caricature.” The network added the film will be “balanced portrayal of the McCain/Palin campaign. … HBO has a long track record of producing fact-based dramas, and our mantra has always been, ‘get the story right.'”
The film, which premieres March 10 on HBO, stars Moore, Ed Harris as John McCain, and Woody Harrelson as McCain’s Palin-averse campaign manager Steve Schmidt.