“Recount” Getting a Few Democrats Up in Arms

Filed under:Good Grief,Television — posted by Anwyn on May 15, 2008 @ 9:04 am

Recount being an HBO film written by Danny Strong of Buffy Evil Nerd Mastermind fame. So why is Warren Christopher upset at his portrayal in the film? Ah–because he is shown as not aggressive enough to get Gore the win.

“I was stunned by the excerpt,” he said in an interview. “Much of what the author has written about me is pure fiction. It contained events that never occurred, words I never spoke and decisions attributed to me that I never made.”

The film portrays Mr. Christopher as blocking attempts by other Gore advisers to rally protesters and to take the fight over disputed ballots to court. He is depicted as backing away from confrontation during a meeting with Mr. Baker, seeking compromise and negotiation as the Republicans prepare for war.

And what does it make you, exactly, when you seek compromise and negotiation while your opponents “prepare for war”?

“I think a lot of the strategizing in the script that I saw was somebody’s hindsight rather than what we had to deal with in the immediate aftermath of the election,” Mr. Daley said. He added: “The perception that Warren Christopher was some wuss who got hoodwinked by Jim Baker is absolute fantasy in the mind of somebody who is trying to make themselves out to be bigger than they were.”

Writing on huffingtonpost.com, Jeffrey Wells calls it “a thoroughly engaging, first-rate political drama.” But, he added, “I can’t see how this film won’t be seen as having done serious damage to the reputation” of Mr. Christopher, whom Mr. Wells says is portrayed “as one of the great all-time wimps.

Oh. It makes you a “wuss” and a “wimp.” I believe that right there is something known as “irony.”

Oh, ho, ho, irony! Oh, no, no, we don’t get that here. See, uh, people ski topless here while smoking dope, so irony’s not really a, a high priority. We haven’t had any irony here since about, uh, ’83, when I was the only practitioner of it. And I stopped because I was tired of being stared at.

As for the Nerd Mastermind himself, I’ll leave you with his idea of Warren Christopher’s characterization:

Mr. Strong disputes that characterization. “It was our goal to show him as a noble statesman who held a deep concern at how the rest of the world would be negatively affected if the United States was not able to handle a disputed election in a nonviolent manner,” he said.

Come on, now, Danny/Jonathan. Even your erstwhile HuffPo reviewer is not buying that.

And Gib marvels in fascination at the spectacle of a former Secretary of State taking on … Jonathan from Buffy.

Via Whedonesque.

one comment so far »

  1. Danny Strong apparently felt the story of what actually happened in 2000 wasn’t sufficiently compelling enough to attract Hollywood interest, so he ginned up a sexier story: George Bush won the 2000 recount battle because the Democrats–principally Warren Christopher and Bill Daley–were too weak, too genteel, to withstand the Jim Baker-led steamroller. Not even the heroic efforts of the only Democratic operative in Florida with the b—s to take on Big Jim could save the ship.

    But Danny had a problem–how to establish the ineffectuality of the Democratic side of the fight. He decided to solve it by creating a scene or two in which Warren Christopher would utter words of compromise, naivete and illogic. In just a few screen minutes, Strong could establish an overarching theme of the film and, if he were lucky, could manage it without ever talking to Christopher.

    At some point—maybe with a goose from HBO– Strong realized he had to cover himself and make contact with Christopher. He now admits that he waited to make the call until the day the scenes involving the Christopher character were shot. He also admits that he refused Christopher’s request to review a copy of the script, even though he accorded that courtesy and beyond to Baker, Klain and probably to people he met agt rest stops on the Interstate.

    Christopher told the NYT he learned the film was in production when his tailor told him he was making a suit for the actor who was to play him. In other words, Strong felt it was critical to get the wardrobe right for the Christopher character, but didn’t regard the facts as rising to the same level of importance.

    What Strong obviously didn’t want Christopher to know was that the script contained scenes in which his character declares that the recount dispute can be compromised and that no lawsuits will be filed on behalf of Gore. Strong knew that once Christopher read or was told of such scenes, the jig would be up–that he’d be faced with having to defend the total distortion of what Christopher did and said. He also presumably knew from talking to Klain that Christopher was a quintessential, albeit scrupulously ethical, litigator. But weak-kneed? Not.

    As we now know, Danny just plowed ahead, disclaiming any intention to cause the public to believe that they’d be viewing a faithful rendition of history; claiming that all he intended to do was to convey “the essence of the truth” as he put it to the New York Times. What he sidesteps, of course, is that the film is being sold to the public not as the “essence” of what happened in 2000 but as “the story of the 2000 presidential election.” He and HBO know that the public wants to treat as fact what is fed to them as “docu-drama.” They want to believe they are witnessing historic events as they actually occurred. That they are consuming an ounce of “docu” for every gallon of “drama” is an inconvenient truth that no one, certainly not Danny Strong nor HBO, wants to point out to them. And like it or not, what the viewers treat as fact becomes fact for others in this generation and those following.

    Thanks for the good work, Danny. You’ve done a terrific job of trashing a few good people and blurring the record of one of the signal events of our time. Quite a first effort.

    Comment by Ernesto — May 18, 2008 @ 12:03 am

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