HBO begins filming 'Game Change'

TV movie about 2008 election stars Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin

  • Julianne Moore as Alaska Governor and vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin in HBO's Game Change.
Julianne Moore as Alaska Governor and vice-presidential nominee… (HBO Films, Baltimore Sun )
April 27, 2011|By David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun

"Game Change," HBO's made-for-TV movie about the 2008 presidential election, started production in Baltimore on Wednesday with a flurry of casting news and the release of the first image of star Julianne Moore as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Based on the best-selling nonfiction account of the election, HBO's film focuses on the campaign of Republican candidate Sen. John McCain from the time of his controversial pick of Palin as his running mate to the ticket's loss in the general election to Barack Obama.

The network has lined up a big-name cast. Ed Harris plays McCain, while Woody Harrelson plays Steve Schmidt, a senior McCain strategist and adviser. Schmidt and Palin publicly criticized each other after the ticket's defeat, with Schmidt trashing her in a "60 Minutes" interview — an indication of the backstage drama and passions inherent in the story.

Cast additions confirmed by HBO on Wednesday include Melissa Farman as Bristol Palin and Jamey Sheridan as Mark Salter, a senior aide to McCain. Farman last appeared in HBO's "Temple Grandin," while Sheridan was featured in "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

HBO also added Larry Sullivan of "CSI" as Chris Edwards, Palin's deputy chief of staff, and Peter MacNicol, formerly of "Ally McBeal," as McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis. Sarah Paulson has also signed on as Nicolle Wallace, a senior adviser to McCain.

The film will be shooting "in and around Baltimore" for the next one to two months, Len Amato, the president of HBO films, said when the project was announced. Baltimore stands in for Washington.

"Look, this is good subject matter [politics] to be shooting in Maryland — in and around Baltimore. So that works organically for the story," Amato said in explaining why Baltimore was chosen.

"But Baltimore and the area around it also have great crews," he added. "There are great actors, and there's great access to actors [on the East Coast]. And then, just the variety of locations you can get in the state, which is really helpful when you're going here and there and trying to maximize one location to get different looks. That's really what attracts us to Maryland — the state, Governor O'Malley's office, the Maryland Film Office and the Department of Business and Economic Development make you feel welcome and help you get the project made the way it should be made."

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