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'The Undefeated': Network Says Airing Pro-Palin Movie Opposite HBO's 'Game Change' Isn't Political

Palin Undefeated

DAVID BAUDER   03/ 7/12 03:00 PM ET  AP

NEW YORK — The ReelzChannel television network says it scheduled a pro-Sarah Palin documentary on the same weekend as HBO's "Game Change" debut strictly for business considerations, not political ones.

"The Undefeated," a Palin documentary by conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon, will have its television premiere on Sunday. It will come 23 hours after HBO opens "Game Change," based on the 2008 campaign book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, and starring Julianne Moore as Palin.

Stan Hubbard, ReelzChannel CEO, said he licensed "The Undefeated" for the same reason that his network aired "The Kennedys" miniseries last spring after it was dropped by the History channel – to draw attention to a nearly 6-year-old network with a low public profile. ReelzChannel is in 62 million homes, a little more than half the country.

"For a young network, public relations is important to us, which is why we hunt for opportunistic things," Hubbard said.

Hubbard said he found the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate a fascinating figure, but he wasn't trying to lionize her.

"If HBO wanted to swap movies this weekend, I'd do that in a second," he said.

Palin supporters have attacked "Game Change," although it's unclear whether any of them has seen it in advance. "The Undefeated" maker Bannon called it a "fictionalized hit-piece" and has praised ReelzChannel's "courageous" decision to air his movie.

"Game Change," co-starring Woody Harrelson and Ed Harris, actually strives for a balanced portrait, showing Palin overwhelmed at times after being thrust onto the presidential ticket and lashing out at some McCain aides but connecting with audiences and performing on big stages better than many critics and supporters expected.

"The Undefeated" focuses first on Palin's life as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, as that state's governor and on the 1998 campaign.

The writer and director of "Game Change" both welcomed "The Undefeated" onto TV.

Writer Danny Strong said he was happy for Bannon: "It's hard for a documentary to get any kind of play. I'm not concerned at all about comparisons to our piece. I just think it's another story, another element of her life."

Director Jay Roach said that any time a film can add to the conversation it's good. "I'm happy that the two films might stir it up a little bit," he said.

Since ReelzChannel announced last month that it would air "The Undefeated, Hubbard said he's gotten about an equal number of letters from people thanking him for the decision or saying they'd never watch ReelzChannel again.

"When you say `Sarah Palin,' nobody sort of shrugs," he said. "Everybody loves her or hates her. There's no middle ground. She's so relevant because she's so intriguing."

He said he would not have sought out "The Undefeated" if Palin were seeking the presidency now, because then the argument that showing it was a political statement would carry more water.

___

AP Television Writer Frazier Moore in New York contributed to this report.

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Sarah Palin On 'Game Change'
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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said she wouldn't watch her portrayal in "Game Change" by Julianne Moore.

"I'm not going to go see the movie, neither is the good Sen. John McCain," she told Fox News. "We've discussed this and realized that Hollywood lies are Hollywood lies. They're going to do what they can to drum up their money and their machine, and their machine happens to be a very pro-leftist, pro-Barack Obama machine there at HBO that created this movie. And those campaign staffers who essentially threw John McCain under the bus, I think that they should feel some shame, and they should feel some embarrassment, because the movie is based on a false narrative, as you can see in the trailer."

A number of her former aides, however, saw the film, and posted this response on the Sarah PAC website:
Despite HBO's best efforts, we have all seen the movie Game Change. We stand by everything we previously said on the record. The movie is at best "historical fiction" - historical only in that Sarah Palin was nominated and campaigned for the office of Vice President. The movie is a series of scenes where the dialogue, locations and participants are invented or rendered unrecognizable for dramatic effect. HBO and its surrogates continue to argue that they spoke to 25 sources. None of them are on the record nor is their level of involvement in the campaign disclosed. Not one source is on the record in either the book or in the movie and it is clear why. The authors of the book never even traveled on the campaign with Governor Palin. We call on HBO to add the fiction disclaimer.

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Filed by Kia Makarechi  |