It’s election season. Hurray for democracy! So far that’s had a slight impact on the movie world, other than the Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis (in this writer’s opinion laughless) comedy “The Campaign” arriving in theatres this summer. While much more powderkeg type movies in Steven Spielberg‘s “Lincoln” and Kathryn Bigelow‘s “Zero Dark Thirty” won’t arrive until after election day to prevent any accusations of trying to sway the vote, it seems that loveable old scamp, Harvey Weinstein, isn’t worried about falling into the same trap. He’s gone ahead and recut the television drama “SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden” to more prominently feature President Barack Obama.
Weinstein picked up the film for $2.5 million at Cannes earlier this year, and it’s set to air on the National Geographic Channel on November 4th (two days before polls open), ahead of a debut on Netflix the following day. The doc tells the story of a hunt and ultimately the assassination of bin Laden by Navy Seals and intelligence operatives, but since Cannes it has been recut to strengthen Obama’s role and offer more insight into decision-making in the White House. Weinstein and the film’s director, John Stockwell, maintain that the changes (which have mostly come about from news and documentary material gathered by producer Meghan O’Hara (“Sicko”)) have been made to provide a greater sense of realism and are not politically motivated.
That assertion is being doubted because Weinstein is known to be a long-time Democratic contributor and one of the most vigorous contributors to Obama’s campaign – and it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to imagine the Weinsteins exerting whatever power they have to get what they want. It’s something that Stockwell vigorously denies though, and he argues that the changes have actually shrunk Obama’s screen time and said that he had also insisted that a scene in which Mitt Romney appeared to oppose the raid be removed. National Georgraphic meanwhile simply say that airing the film before the election is a case of taking advantage of their fall schedule, and it will help the picture gain publicity after spending months in the shadow of Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.”
We’re going to simply raise an eyebrow at this one, but at the same time we don’t think a TV drama airing on one of the country’s lesser watched cable networks is going to make much of a difference anyway – unless most of Ohio tunes in, that is. [THR/New York Times]