Critics, but no script for Hillary Clinton miniseries

  • By Scott Collins Los Angeles Times
  • Friday, September 6, 2013 1:22pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

There isn’t even a finished script yet, but NBC has already run into trouble with its planned biopic on Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Executives in July announced plans for a miniseries starring Diane Lane that would look at the life and career of the former first lady, New York senator and secretary of state. What angle the miniseries will take is far from clear, but Clinton’s political opponents, expecting her to run for president in 2016, aren’t taking any chances.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus called “Hillary” a “political ad masquerading as an unbiased production,” and the RNC said it would nix NBC from its primary debates if the network went ahead with plans. It also made the same threat with CNN, which is planning a Clinton documentary.

Although the RNC hasn’t specifically said so, it could also steer GOP ad money away from NBC for upcoming races, costing local stations millions of dollars. “Hillary” is even stirring up internal strife, with NBC newsman Chuck Todd calling it a “total nightmare” for his division given that the miniseries might lead viewers to question whether he and others could cover Clinton fairly.

NBC is thus repeating a lesson networks have learned many times before: Politics and broadcast TV dramatizations don’t mix.

In fact, the network’s top programmer is now backing away from the project, only weeks after touting it as part of an exciting push into “event” programming.

“The Hillary Clinton movie has not been ordered to production, only a script is being written at this time,” Bob Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, said in a statement. “It is ‘in development,’ the first stage of any television series or movie, many of which never go to production. Speculation, demands and declarations pertaining to something that isn’t created or produced yet seem premature.”

NBC declined further comment.

The notion that a Clinton biopic could sway large numbers of voters is unfounded, said Martin Kaplan, the Norman Lear professor of entertainment, media and society at USC’s Annenberg School. Clinton has long been a polarizing political figure, he noted, and most people have set opinions of her.

Kaplan, a deputy campaign manager for Walter Mondale’s 1984 White House run, recalled worry that the feature film “The Right Stuff” would tip the vote toward Mondale’s primary opponent, former astronaut and then U.S. Sen. John Glenn.

“But it turned out to make no difference,” he said.

Justified or not, the betting in the TV business is that the Clinton biopic won’t air on NBC or any other broadcast station, for several reasons.

Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have been anathema to conservatives for years — meaning that large numbers of viewers may simply tune out. Then too, any whiff of controversy could keep major advertisers away. And if Clinton does indeed run for president, it’s conceivable that opponents could demand equal time on the network.

More in Life

Heavy Hollywood headlines: Robert Horton’s movies preview

In the midst of all the sexual-misconduct allegations, the holiday film season offers some relief.

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with reads, listens

Pay tribute to the contributions of indigenous people to national history and culture.

New York tabs share ‘I’m With Perv’ headlines on Trump

Both are reporting on the president’s backing of accused Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Where the wild things are in Snohomish

Step into the studio of Imps and Monsters creator Justin Hillgrove for a Black Friday sale.

Meet Nellie, Thor, Raven, Lola, Jasper, Gunner and Bella

These six dogs are waiting for loving homes.

Did you know? Bats edition

Worthwhile Everett library reading and viewing about bats of the animal, sport and hero varieties.

Sister is the victim of financial abuse

By Carolyn Hax / The Washington Post Dear Carolyn: My sister stays… Continue reading

Grandma’s fed up with kids’ disrespect for Thanksgiving traditions

By Tom and Dee Hardie with Key Kidder Dear Grandparenting: This is… Continue reading

Today in History: Nov. 22

Today is Wednesday, Nov. 22, the 326th day of 2017. There are… Continue reading

Most Read