Michele Bachmann and Harvey Weinstein, publicity BFFs?
This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
In a new television ad airing in Iowa, Michele Bachmann's campaign compares the Minnesota congresswoman to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. With a graphic describing the Republican presidential candidate as "America's Iron Lady," the ad appears to attempt to capitalize on the Weinstein Co.'s heavy publicity and marketing campaign for "The Iron Lady," the new biopic of the conservative icon starring Meryl Streep as Thatcher.
In an interview conducted in mid-December, before the Bachmann ad began airing, Streep dismissed any analogies between the fiscally conservative British head of government and the socially conservative congresswoman, pointing out that Thatcher did not feel abortion should be a political issue, protected a member of her cabinet embroiled in a gay scandal and believed in the science of global warming.
Ironically, Bachmann appears to be trying to use the Streep film for publicity just as its distributor, the Weinstein Co., attempted to use Bachmann last fall to promote its political satire "Butter" at the Toronto International Film Festival.
At the September screening of "Butter," which is about a butter-carving competition in small-town Iowa, Harvey Weinstein had star Olivia Wilde read a statement inviting Bachmann to co-host a "Butter" premiere with him in Iowa this January.
"I know Michele will already be in Iowa for the caucus, so we can save some money on airfare and travel," the statement read. "'We could take some math classes in the morning to help balance the budget, brush up on the Constitution in the afternoon, play some ping-pong and then maybe some verbal ping-pong on gay rights and women's rights (especially the right to choose)."
Festival reviews of "Butter" were lukewarm; Weinstein plans to release the film in March.
With Bachmann polling last or near last among the seven major GOP candidates, the person benefiting most from the Weinstein/Bachmann machine seems to be Streep: "The Iron Lady" collected $280,409 over the New Year's weekend in four theaters, a strong per-theater average of $70,102. With Streep an Oscar front-runner and Academy Awards nominations due Jan. 24, the film is poised to expand to several hundred theaters later in the month.
[For the Record, 3 p.m. Jan. 6: An earlier version of this post erroneously referred to Britain's prime minister as head of state. The prime minister is head of government, while the queen is head of state.]
-- Rebecca Keegan
Photo: Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." Credit: Alex Bailey, Pathe Productions /The Weinstein Co.