Reelz aims pro-Sarah Palin film against HBO's 'Game Change'
This post has been updated. See the note at the bottom for details.
Next month's battle of the Sarah Palins on cable TV could be flippin' awesome.
The director of a pro-Palin documentary has come out swinging against HBO's upcoming dramatization of the 2008 presidential campaign, "Game Change." And on Tuesday, the scrappy Reelz network announced that his film on the former Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate, "The Undefeated," will premiere March 11 -- strategically placed just one day after "Game Change."
That's not all. Steve Bannon, writer-director of "The Undefeated," accuses HBO of a grand conspiracy to undermine Palin's political career.
The pay-cable network, he said in a phone interview Tuesday, deliberately scheduled the movie starring Julianne Moore to destroy Palin's prospects just days after the Super Tuesday primaries.
"When they made this film, they thought Sarah Palin was going to be in the race," said Bannon, who has not seen HBO's "Game Change." Palin announced last October she would not run for president in 2012.
Bannon -- described by one critic as the "Michael Moore of the tea party movement" -- said Reelz chose to run his documentary "as a kind of counterweight to the HBO film."
HBO representatives did not respond to an email seeking comment.
"The Undefeated" tells the story of Palin's rise from 1989, when she worked on a fishing boat, to the governor's mansion and beyond. Andrew Breitbart and other conservative pundits have their say, although Bannon chose not to interview Palin herself, on the grounds that her reflections would take the viewer away from the "whirlwind of Sarah Palin" that he attempts to recreate. Some critics have already attacked the movie -- which has seen a limited release in theaters and on pay-per-view -- for factual omissions. Bannon's reply: "In two hours, there's only so much ground you can cover."
Reelz last year cashed in on huge controversy surrounding its "The Kennedys" miniseries and hopes to do it again with "The Undefeated," according to chief executive Stan Hubbard.
"When you're in this business, you take your opportunities where you can," he said.
Updated 5:15 p.m. Feb. 21: HBO offered a statement that called "Game Change" "a balanced portrayal of the McCain/Palin campaign" and added: "We hope that people will withhold any judgment until they have viewed the film. In the tradition of past HBO Films' release schedules, 'Game Change' is set to debut in the spring."
Photo: Sarah Palin is the subject of two competing films coming to HBO and Reelz. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press