Variety is reporting that Sydney Pollack will direct Recount, a scripted HBO movie about the contested 2000 presidential election that will focus on the five weeks following Election Day, up through the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of George W. Bush. Casting has yet to be finalized, but presumably slightly fictionalized and composited disgruntled voters will rub shoulders with real-life strategists and local politicians (after all, who can forget this face?).
Sorry, but the fact that the project is “aiming for the widest possible audience, and will steer clear of a partisan point of view, according to execs,” doesn’t bode well for its meat-and-potatoes worth as a drama. I totally get this project’s editorial and financial value in the middle of a heated election-year cycle (it will air on the net sometime next spring or summer), and Pollack’s deft touch with the politically-related material makes him an easy and solid, if somewhat too safe choice. But what gives that backdrop its electrical charge is the winning and losing. Anything else might as well be just a documentary offering — the same sort of thing which …So Goes the Nation incidentally did a pretty damn good job of capturing, in Ohio in 2004.
If you’re not showing the anger of people who feel like they’re getting jammed (or, conversely, the celebration of those “getting over”), if you’re too busy tap-dancing around some imaginary line of kumbaya appeasement, if you’re not choosing, in some loose sense, you’re going to end up with just a neutered piece of info-tainment to serve as lead-in fodder for shows like Hardball and Tucker, and the policy wonks that watch them. It will be interesting to see if all the major players and party power brokers are represented in Recount‘s story, whatever its putative dramatic focus. If not, it has the strong potential to be empty theater.
The one person who should be most grateful for this announcement, other than actor-turned-writer Danny Strong? Fran Drescher. I don’t what the hell she’s up to, but if her agent is worth a rat’s ass, they’re booking her for the role of Katherine Harris. Yesterday.
Also, randomly and almost belatedly, some of these April Fool’s day hoaxes/stories, perpetuated by various governments, bureaucratic officials and the media, are pretty great. Yes, if only spaghetti grew on trees…
UPDATE 8/09: A few days old now, but according to Reuters and other outlers, Pollack, 73, has backed out of directing Recount, citing unspecified health concerns. “He’s got some medical issues,” spokeswoman Leslie Dart told Reuters.
“He’s not feeling well right now. It would be unrealistic for him to go
into production right away.” Pollack will stay on board as a producer, and Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meets the Parents) will step in to direct.