By: Nellie Andreeva, The Hollywood Reporter
HBO is revisiting one of the most dramatic events in U.S. election history with “Recount,” a film about the 2000 turmoil in Florida to be directed by Oscar winner Sydney Pollack.
Paula Weinstein is executive producing the HBO Films project, which is targeted to premiere in spring 2008.
Written by actor Danny Strong, Spring Creek Prods.’ “Recount” chronicles the weeks after the 2000 presidential election and goes behind the scenes of the recounts in Florida to explore the human drama of ordinary people caught in an extraordinary event that would decide the leadership of the country.
“It’s a very compelling piece that takes a well-known event and deconstructs it from the point of view of the people involved,” HBO Films president Colin Callender said.
While “Recount” takes on one of the most controversial and politically charged episodes in recent history, the telefilm has no political agenda, Callender said.
“It doesn’t take sides,” he said. “It’s a fascinating look at democracy where the rubber meets the road — a look at the election process like we have never seen it before.”
The Florida saga began with a total confusion on Election Night, when the TV networks first declared Al Gore winner in the state, then called Florida for George Bush before agreeing the race was too close to call. That was followed by a month of recounts and legal maneuvers by the Bush and Gore camps that played out like a soap opera involving the infamous hanging chads and butterfly ballots, as well as a host of memorable characters such as Florida’s then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris.
Caught in the middle of the drama were more than 175,000 voters whose ballots were rejected — a huge number considering that Bush was eventually certified a winner by 537 votes.
“Recount” will tell the stories of some of these voters as well as the Republican and Democratic teams that were deployed to Florida in the month after the election.
Strong, whose acting credits include “Gilmore Girls” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” pitched the idea for “Recount” to Weinstein a year and a half ago. Weinstein and longtime Spring Creek executive Len Amato then took the project to HBO.
To write the script, Strong did detailed research, including conducting numerous interviews with people involved in or affected by the recount, Weinstein said.
“I feel that the script is extraordinary, and we have the perfect director in Sydney Pollack,” she said. “Nobody would be able to deal with complexity of the issues and (convey) the dramatic twists and turns of the story with honesty and truthfulness better than Sydney.”
Weinstein admits to being a longtime fan of Pollack and calls the opportunity to work with him on “Recount” “a dream come true.”
Amato, who recently joined HBO Films as senior vp, also is executive producing “Recount,” along with Pollack.
“Recount” reunites Weinstein and HBO. She collaborated with the premium cable channel on “Truman,” which won an Emmy for best TV movie in 1996; on the Emmy-nominated “Citizen Cohn”; and, most recently, on “Iron Jawed Angels,” on which Amato also served as an executive producer. On the feature side, Weinstein recently produced and Amato executive produced “Blood Diamond.”
Pollack won best director and best picture Oscars for “Out of Africa” and was nominated in both categories for “Tootsie.” He most recently helmed the 2005 feature “The Interpreter” and the documentary “Sketches of Frank Gehry.”