Liz Smith: Julianne Moore Plays “Game Change” — Brilliantly! Liz Attends HBO’s Big Night in New York

And more from our Gossip Girl: Diane von Furstenberg’s annual DVF Awards honors Oprah and other extraordinary women

“The best audience is intelligent, well-educated, and a little drunk,” said Alben Barkley, 35th vice president of the United States.

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I really had fun at the preview screening of  “Game Change,” which is the HBO movie about the John McCain/Sarah Palin thrust for the presidency. (You can see this on HBO, Saturday, March 10th at 9 p.m. (EST). So now I will just take two aspirin and write what I remember of the evening.

This was at the Ziegfeld Theater, a fabulous peek at a film sure to become politically controversial and notoriously loved and reviled. I’ll say upfront: it will make liberals happy and Tea Party-ers furious. The GOP will claim it is a hateful hatchet job, taken from the book by the brilliant John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, adapted for TV by Danny Strong. It takes as its focus the happenings in the 2008 campaign that led Sarah Palin to become the GOP frontrunner for vice-president.

I note that if this had been produced as a feature film and not for TV, Julianne Moore would win the Oscar for the year, hands down. Nobody could have better replicated Alaska’s governor with more ego, charm, sex appeal, wrong-headedness and pathos. Julianne gives a great artist’s take on a dynamic, ambitious American woman who was ahead of herself on the uphill phase of political fame. Julianne’s performance is simply breathtaking. It is total virtuoso stuff of a lifetime after being fabulous in so many other outings. (“A Single Man” … “The Kids Are All Right” … “The Hours” … “Far From Heaven.” She has been Academy Award-nominated four times — so move over, Meryl, we have a contender!)

You will see the difference between the comedic brilliance of Tina Fey’s hilarious “SNL” Palin take and Moore’s craftily created real woman. The latter takes into account ego, hubris and ignorance, combined in a physically attractive and unusual female. Moore makes one actually feel sorry for Sarah Palin at points in this wonderful film. It is quite horrible to see a person so out of their depth.

That said, the meat of the movie are the men: Ed Harris as John McCain who is, rightly or wrongly, restored to his heroic ethical self by this HBO film. Woody Harrelson — thoughtful, ruthless, intellectual — plays chief aide Steve Schmidt, the GOP adviser who “got religion” and has now, in real life, become an MSNBC commentator for the other side. All the male protagonists who advise and consent to Palin’s elevation are really convincing as this inner circle is forced into realizing they’ve made a big mistake. And actress Sarah Paulson is touching as the former White House aide who realizes her coaching of Palin is a disastrous idea — for America. The scenes between Paulson and Moore are horrifying, as Palin psychotically refuses to learn what she doesn’t know. She doggedly insists on learning how her approval ratings are in Alaska while displaying total ignorance of World Wars I & II, the Fed, and the difference between North and South Korea.

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The audience, I’m told, was carefully seated — so the Pros (like Arianna Huffington) and cons (GOP Anti-s like Ed Rollins) sat separated. But afterwards they mixed and mingled at the Seagram Building’s Four Seasons. It was a sensational after-party which turned into a high old time for a Yellow Dog Democrat like me. If you were Republican, I guess you won’t like the movie as much as I did. But I saw many important souls, from executive producer Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson to the beautiful Julianne herself, accompanied by her teenage son Caleb. Then there was New York’s finest, including Veronica and Ray Kelly of the NYC police world. I won’t even attempt to name the many distinguished guests. I had a fine time with the sexy mover/shaker Holly Peterson; Tribeca’s film ace Jane Rosenthal; Ellen Futter the Natural History Museum maven; those wedded Democrats Rick Morris and Lisa Caputo, David and Sherrie Westin, Joy and Regis Philbin, Time magazine Rick Stengel, my longtime WNBC friend Chuck Scarborough, and like that.

Don’t miss HBO this Saturday night and see “Game Change” for yourself. It is history as we have experienced it. I congratulate the producers, screen writers, and director Jay Roach. His clarity, unusual close-ups, cut-ins and outs of real events, along with the attractive “look” of the film, deserve a special burst of applause.

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SURELY WHEN they start breaking down statistics according to what the year 2012 meant in NYC, the name Diane von Furstenberg will appear over and over again as the city’s prime mover and shaker, fashion maven, charity queen, style setter, philanthropist, and charmer.

Well, why should 2012 be any different than any of the years in this town since 1970 when she first appeared as a “Princess,” wed to Egon von Furstenberg? She became a hard-working mother with two kids who has invented the simple wrap dress twice in one lifetime.

After all this time, Diane is married to another prince — the untitled Barry Diller of IAC. And, “Mrs. Diller,” as few ever call her, has become one of our premiere citizens.

Tonight, along with Tina Brown, Diane puts on a part of the 3rd Annual DVF Awards. This honors five women whose leadership, strength and courage is unquestioned. Each recipient is generously given $50,000 for their organization’s needs. Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s Women in the World Summit are sponsoring this evening to honor extraordinary women.

There will also be an award for Oprah Winfrey’s Lifetime Leadership. (How do you give a monied award to Oprah; or does she give YOU money??? Kidding.)

If you show up at the UN Plaza entry gate on First Ave and 42nd Street, you will see the mighty going in to support women everywhere because of Diane. It’s a great occasion — and my own little vote in this matter goes to “Wonder Woman” herself: Diane von Furstenberg. She is generous, committed and totally terrific.

9 comments so far.

  1. avatar dc says:

    Liz – I think you mean Joe Scarborough.

    • avatar Liz Smith says:

      Dear dc…

      No, I mean my old friend from NBC-TV, Chuck. Joe Scarborough is a different story. Even I know that. But thanks for thinking I needed to know one Scarborough from another.

  2. avatar JCF4612 says:

    Can’t wait to see Woody as Steve Schmidt.

  3. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Not all Republicans “wave the flag blindly” particularly with regard to the Looney Tooneys who took “center stage” that night at the convention along with Sarah Palin. And some will thoroughly enjoy it. Some of us remember what the Republican Part once was. And are thoroughly disgusted by what it has become. If Ronald Reagan were alive, he would paraphrase himself from long ago and say simply “The Republican Party left me.” Anyone who thinks the Looney Tooneys are “carrying his torch” have lost touch with reality. Nancy Reagan must have a hard time dealing with it. I would.  It was not easy in 2008 for Republicans to vote for Obama but many simply were horrified by Sarah Palin. And then horrified that McCain would have agreed to select her as his running mate. That decision alone was what was behind the decision of many Republicans to vote for Obama. That and the fact that they fell for the “hopey, changey thingy.” Only change we have seen so far has left those who needed the change the most without hope.  But Mitt Romney really isn’t lovelier the second time around. And the Looney Tooneys are simply not reflective of the real values of many Republicans who, again, remember what the party once was and are thoroughly disgusted by what it has become. So, well, many will vote for Obama again. To prevent something worse from taking office. And at this point any Republican, since they all have pandered to the Looney Tooneys, would be worse. I of course still hope to win the lottery and move to Costa Rica and simply not care.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Snooks, I think every Presidential election I have voted in came down to choosing the candidate I thought would be least awful. I SO wish that it was about choosing the best, but it isn’t.

  4. avatar central coast cabin home says:

    God I love NYC, wish I could be there. Some of us remember what the Republican party never was. Hugs Nancy R., it will be ok. Popcorn & drinks are ready for the show.

  5. avatar KatherineElizabeth says:

    I am appalled at the Palin bashing and the continual use of the word “brilliant; brilliance” for the performances of those who continue to mock her.  When has degrading another human being become so fashionably acceptable in our society?  The attacks against Palin went beyond the boundaries of decency by the media. 

    I watched two interviews with Julianne Moore, whom I have always admired as an actress.  When asked about Palin, she just rolled her eyes and coyly smiled.  When asked about Obama and his politics, she lit up like a Christmas tree and grinned ear to ear.  Her eyes literally sparkled.  That told me all I needed to know about her portrayal of Palin. 

    I have been a Democrat my entire life.  When Obama ran for President, I felt he lacked the ability to guide our country in the direction it needed to go, so I voted Republican.  As a nation, we need to stop identifying ourselves by which “organization” we belong to, and instead, view the candidates based on their personal merits. 

    Liz, you have lowered yourself to a mean, spiteful, click driven Dem who thinks it is cool to belittle others.   Does the humiliation of another human being bring you that much joy?  Regardless of your personal opinion of Palin, she is still a human being with feelings. 

    There are the base Democrats and then there are the “clickity Hollywood Dems” who think the party revolves around them.  Your article may net you an invite to the White House (along with Moore), but it certainly won’t bring you respect. 

    • avatar Paul Smith says:

      Katherine, good words indeed. No one argues merits; a quick character assasination will do. Poor Mitt Romney and all that aptitude for math; how unattractive to liberals.

    • avatar Liz Smith says:

      Dear Katherine—

      If I wanted “respect” I wouldn’t have become a gossip colulmnist.

      As for the portrayal of Mrs. Palin by Miss Moore–it is far more sympathetic than you might imagine. Mrs. Palin was not qualified (at that time) to have become vice president. But she was thrown into the river without a paddle and I think this movie makes that clear. Along with that–her devotion to her husband, family and her own ethics is made clear, and not dismissed or mocked.

      In any case–as I predicted three years ago, after McCain lost–Mrs. Palin is a star who isn’t going to disappear into the woodwork. She became a great force in the Republican party; her ambition had been fired up during the campaign. Perhaps to her own surprise. This movie will come and go. Mrs. Palin, whether one likes her or not, is here to stay.

      The attacks against President Obama have gone beyond all boundaries of decency. But that’s just my spiteful, mean, Democratic opinion.

      My best to you,
      Liz Smith