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HOLLYWOOD BRIEF / RACHEL ABRAMOWITZ

Sarah Palin's star turn

September 06, 2008|RACHEL ABRAMOWITZ

LIKE MANY around Hollywood, I've spent an embarrassing amount of time during the week trying to decide which actress would be best to play Sarah Palin in the story of her life. I know conventional wisdom says that Tina Fey is a lock for the part, but do you really think that the "30 Rock" star could be believable in a role in which she'd have to wrestle a moose to the ground and vivisect ol' Bullwinkle with her bowie knife?

Personally I'd vote for Demi Moore, because, as veteran comedy writer and "MASH" co-creator Larry Gelbart pointed out when we were discussing this, Moore could really capture what he sees as Palin's "mixture of sensuality and dominatrix."

And just think, Moore's husband, Ashton Kutcher, could play the "first dude," Todd Palin.

OK, this is not a particularly socially redeeming pastime, but stories -- and movies -- are a nice outlet when the real-life events provoke so much anxiety.

These are strange times we live in. I've been getting better gossip out of the Huffington Post than Us magazine. I've seen the same people who lambasted Lynn Spears for being the worst mother in America show compassion for Palin and her pregnant daughter. I've seen Republicans complain that any criticism of Sarah Palin is sexist, while delegates at the Republican convention sport "The Hottest VP From the Coolest State" buttons. Like I said, strange times.

Nowadays, reality and fiction seem to collide on a daily basis. David Duchovny plays a sex addict on TV and is one in person too! Military interrogators refer to the "24" playbook on torture. So why shouldn't Hollywood movies of the past give an indication about how the ever-evolving Sarah Palin story line might play out?

No doubt, if you ask the Republicans, Palin is tailor-made for a gender-role-switched remake of Frank Capra's 1939 classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," the tale of a senator from a small town (Jimmy Stewart) who fights Washington's corruption. I can just see Palin on the Senate floor in a leather miniskirt, arguing in defense of a national hockey rink project.

Republicans might also enjoy seeing her story being recycled into a remake of "Kisses for My President," the 1964 film about women banding together to elect the first female president (Polly Bergen). Or maybe not, as her first man (Fred MacMurray) has to deal with an office full of frilly pink furniture and a wife who has no time for sex.

Democrats would likely opt for re-crafting the Palin story into an update of the 1972 film "The Candidate," or "The Manchurian Candidate," or even "Dr. Strangelove," though I'm not sure how funny people would now find the tale of a mad general (or vice president) ordering a nuclear attack on a country like . . . Iran.

Personally, I was thinking that the Palin story was best suited to a 1980s-style fish-out-of-water comedy starring a brunet Goldie Hawn, or even a Judd Apatow-like comedy. But in my version, the lead would have to be self-proclaimed "redneck" Levi Johnston, the father of Bristol Palin's baby, who finds himself locking horns with the potential mother-in-law from heck, the bear-wrestling lady governor of Alaska who won't let any teenage hormones get in the way of her political ambitions.

I'd also like to see the real "Juno" in Juneau, but like Barack Obama, I'll leave the kids out of this exercise.

I asked a few creative people around town how they'd pitch the Palin story to the studios, but most demurred, because they said it was too unbelievable for Hollywood.

"If you created a character who was an evangelical Christian and hunted caribou with a machine gun, people would say it's too broad for even satire," says writer-director Gary Ross, who wrote the 1993 presidential comedy "Dave."

But maybe a feature film is the wrong way to approach this. "It's a reality show. It's not a movie," says Gelbart. "A TV reality show is still what I think would be closer to the mark for telling her story, the proliferation of this form of entertainment having so whetted the American public's taste for amateurs."

Personally, I had my eureka moment watching Palin give her speech on Wednesday night.

Sure, she was poised, and read a teleprompter well, but there was that snarl that would periodically mar the pleasantness of her telegenic features.

Then, suddenly, my husband uttered the magic words.

Tracy Flick.

Yes, Palin reminds me of Tracy Flick. She's the ferocious overachiever Reese Witherspoon plays in the excellent 1999 comedy "Election," who despite her angelic face is vindictive, manipulative and would do anything to become president of her high school class.

Don't agree with me? Here's Tracy's prayer to God that she win the election from the film. I've just updated it to make it work for Election 2008.

"Dear Lord Jesus, I do not often speak with you and ask for things, but now, I really must insist that you help me win the election tomorrow because I deserve it and [Barack Obama] doesn't, as you well know. . . . Now I'm asking that you go that one last mile and make sure to put me in office where I belong so that I may carry out your will on Earth as it is in heaven. Amen."

Yup. Amen.

--

rachel.abramowitz@latimes.com

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