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Danny Strong

Danny Strong - "Recount" Tv Movie recasted

Monday 13 August 2007, by Webmaster

Hanging Itself on Hanging Chads

HBO must be out of its mind to replace ailing Sydney Pollack with Jay Roach of Austin Powers and Meet the Parents at the helm of its important political docudrama Recount, revisiting one of the most dramatic events in U.S. history. The turmoil in Florida over hanging chads that delayed the 2000 presidential-election result is one of those hot-button issues that still rile both political parties. You can bet pundits will put the movie under even more of a microscope when it comes out during the 2008 presidential race. That’s because slotting in a lightweight comedy director/producer like Roach is just wrong on so many levels.

For instance, Roach helped exec-produce the reality series American Candidate, which promised to find a “people’s candidate” to run in the November 2004 race for the White House. First FX jettisoned it, then it aired on Showtime and received rotten reviews and no buzz. Yeah, that’s a big recommendation. Now Roach is paired on Recount with first-time screenwriter Danny Strong, an actor who played sidekick roles in Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and then decided to pen a script about an American political crisis. No, I’m not kidding. What was HBO thinking when it decided not even to base the project on one of the many good nonfiction books about Gore vs. Bush, like, say, former Salon and now ABC political correspondent Jack Tapper’s Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency? It’s as if HBO has a death wish and is virtually asking pundits to critically kill Recount before it even airs.

Granted, Pollack hasn’t made a good movie in some time, but Recount was right up his liberal-activist alley. And because of Strong’s newbie status, HBO was relying on Oscar winner Pollack’s decades of bona fides to give the telepic credibility. Pollack and Strong this summer were revising the first draft together and visiting Florida to gather more material. Now Pollack will only be exec-producing, along with another progressive producer, Paula Weinstein. Whether even these two Hollywood vets can keep the film from veering off course, from a suspenseful drama to a heavy-handed parody, remains doubtful. I’m also alarmed by reports I’m hearing that Strong’s first draft is very critical — “almost mean” — about Al Gore. I’ve already slammed recent HBO executive-suite moves, but now I’m starting to think the people in charge of the pay channel can’t do anything right anymore.