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