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No surprise — Palin pans HBO's 'Game Change'

Published March 7, 2012 2:13 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sarah Palin is unhappy about TV movie "Game Change." What a shock.

She's demanding that HBO label it as "fiction."

The movie, which debuts Saturday at 10 p.m. on HBO, isn't exactly a glowing portrait of the former Alaska governor. It depicts her as overmatched and undereducated when she ran for vice president, as did the book on which it's based.

HBO points out that the book "went unrefuted by the Palin camp" when it was published.

Julianne Moore turns in a stunning performance. She looks and sounds just like Palin, but she's not just a mimic. There's depth to her portrayal.

"Game Change" isn't a hatchet job on the GOP. John McCain (Ed Harris) comes off looking pretty good. And Palin doesn't come off looking any worse than she did during the campaign. You could argue she looks more sympathetic, but her partisans will not see it that way.

"I don't think this movie is going to change people's minds one way or the other," said screenwriter Danny Strong. "And it's not designed to change anybody's minds."

Palin's backers will see this as an attack. Her detractors will see it as fact.

"Sarah Palin is truly one of the great American political stories of our time," Strong said. "It is so dramatic. It's so exciting. You have such an amazing character at the center of it."

"Game Change" focuses on the two months after McCain chose Palin, and on through their loss in the general election. "And it felt like the best movie we could make in a two hour version of this event," Strong said.

Palin — who turned down requests to be interviewed by Strong and director Jay Roach — wants the movie labeled as "fiction." And, clearly, it's not a documentary. It's a dramatization.

But let's be even-handed. Let's label the pro-Palin propaganda film "The Undefeated" as "fiction," too. The supposed documentary airs Sunday at 6 and 9 p.m. on Reelz, and it's horrifying in its unrelenting cheerleading for Palin.

An actual documentary would have some degree of balance. "The Undefeated" has none. It's all adoring fans extolling Palin's virtues and portraying her every move as heroic.

It's filled with over-the-top images, like footage of lions taking down a zebra to represent anyone who criticizes her.

And, I kid you not, when the show launches into an attack on the Obama administration, there's footage of a nuclear explosion for no apparent reason.

Reelz, by the way, is the channel that ran "The Kennedys" after the History Channel rejected it because of its historical inaccuracies.

Didn't hear any complaints from the right about that. Because it's all about whose ox is being gored.

Scott D. Pierce's column appears Mondays and Fridays in The Mix. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce; read his blog at sltrib.com/blogs/tv.