HBO promises ‘fair’ recount movie made by Dem donors

HBO is planning to make an unbiased film, titled “Recount” and scheduled to premiere early next year, about the 2000 presidential election.

That could be difficult, if not impossible, to pull off, because the director, executive producer, and writer of the movie are all Democrats. Oh, and Colin Callender, the president of HBO Films, is also a D.

The Hollywood Reporter this week quoted Callender as saying the movie won’t take sides and instead would be “a fascinating look at democracy.” Callender has made political donations to then-Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Executive Producer Paula Weinstein, who has given to Sens. Clinton, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), praised Sydney Pollack for being the only director able to deal with the “dramatic twists and turns of the story with honesty and truthfulness.”

Pollack has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats over the years. Some of the recipients were Clinton, Boxer, and California Reps. Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters. In 1999, however, he gave to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Daniel Strong, the writer of “Recount,” has claimed he did detailed research and conducted numerous interviews with the people involved.

That is news to one Republican operative who was in the middle of the hanging-chad controversy, who said he knows of no Florida Republican — including former Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) — who was interviewed by Strong.

Len Amato, the senior vice president of HBO Films who gave $2,000 to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004, said he can understand the concerns, but noted that his company has a long track record of thoroughly researching its historical topics before filming them.

“Our main intention is getting the story right,” Amato said.

He said the political donations to Democrats will not affect the film, claiming HBO will “bend over backwards” to make the movie fair.

Harris was not interviewed because she was in the midst of a Senate campaign last year, Amato said, adding that several high-profile Republicans were interviewed for the film, including Ben Ginsberg and James Baker III.


Ted's new title

Sen. Edward Kennedy (Mass.) was one of three Democratic senators last week offering biblical quotations to bolster their calls for comprehensive immigration reform.

At a press conference that included Kennedy and Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and a number of evangelical leaders, Kennedy spoke first, quoting passages from the books of Matthew and Leviticus.

“The alien living with you must be treated as your native born,” Kennedy said, quoting Leviticus.

The biblical tone of Kennedy’s opening remarks led Graham to give him a new title.
“Thank you, Monsignor Ted,” Graham said.

 


Joe diGenova shines at Gridiron 

 

Former U.S. Attorney Joe diGenova is best known for his performance in high-profile courtroom cases, but he’s becoming almost as well known for his performances as a singer, as he demonstrated at Saturday’s 122nd annual Gridiron Dinner.

Appearing for the 12th straight time as Washington’s media elite roasted the high and mighty, the 62-year-old criminal defense attorney won rave reviews from the 650 guests for his starring role in five skits, including a parody of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as architects of the Iraq war, sung to the tune of “I Remember It Well.”

DiGenova also poked fun at Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s (D-Ohio) presidential ambitions by singing a version of “The Impossible Dream” while dressed as a giant ear of corn.

“It was a lot of fun singing those brilliant songs written by scribes,” diGenova said Monday from the law office he shares with his wife, Victoria Toensing.

DiGenova inherits his talent from his late father, Egidio diGenova, who “made his living singing opera and performing on Broadway in the 1930s and ’40s” before moving to Wilmington, Del., where his son was born. “I have some genetic benefits,” diGenova said. “My father was a wonderful teacher. He wasn’t a star, but he was a star in my eyes.”

DiGenova wasn’t the only star at the Gridiron, which moved to the Renaissance Washington hotel this year after nearly four decades at the Capitol Hilton. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) wowed the audience by portraying himself in a skit about the Democrats, while syndicated columnist Clarence Page did a dead-on version of late soul singer James Brown.

The three featured speakers got off some good lines as well. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) confided that his first name, roughly translated from Hebrew, means “Screw you,” while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) made light of his Mormon background by saying Mormons are afraid that “sex will lead to dancing.”


 Specter a fan of ‘The Nanny’

Women’s cancer may not be the usual topic of cocktail-hour banter. But last week, the D.C. home of Christine Warnke was filled with a crowd of prominent area guests doing just that. It also had a little touch of L.A. (or Queens) in its guest star: uterine cancer survivor and former “Nanny” star Fran Drescher.

Drescher was in town to promote Cancer Schmancer, an organization she founded to increase the awareness and early detection of women’s cancer. Other boldface attendees included Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.); Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), National Cancer Institute Director Dr. John Niederhuber, former U.N. Representative Esther Coopersmith, Jeff Lewis of Heinz Family Philanthropies, and Annie Lee, owner of Georgetown vintage store Annie Creamcheese, who definitely claimed the title of the night’s most stylish attendee.

Drescher was, as Specter said, “the real star of the party.”

“Fran Drescher is a dynamo,” Specter said, “and I want to help her advise women of the problems of uterine cancer.” Specter cited the many cancer sufferers he has known, as well as his own battle with Hodgkin’s Disease, as the primary reason he became involved with the organization. He has cosponsored Johanna’s Act, which aims to increase awareness of gynecological cancers, and has appropriated $200,000 in the past two years for battling gynecological cancer alone.

Drescher told the intimate crowd of her two-year path to receive a diagnosis, in which she saw eight doctors, all of whom misdiagnosed her illness.

“They all told me I was too young and too thin to have cancer,” she said. “Finally, I’m too young and too thin for something!” 

Drescher said she was lucky to have the resources to ask for a second — and eighth — opinion and stressed that not many women have that luxury.

 


Blazing a trail for Gonzales

 

With all the controversy swirling around Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Under the Dome sniffed around to find out if Internet squatters were gobbling up Gonzales-related domain names.

It turns out that at least one organization has — the Portland Trailblazers. Type in albertogonzales.com and it becomes the official site of the pro basketball team.

A Trailblazers spokesman was surprised to hear the news, but couldn’t explain it at press time.