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By David Zurawik and The Baltimore Sun | November 5, 2012
There is no TV genre more problematic than docudrama. And Sunday's premiere of "SEAL Team Six," which claims to be the true, inside story of the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, is as problematic as they come. The core issues all grow from the docudramatist's desire to have it both ways in mixing fact and fiction. The goal is to have the credibility of the documentary as well as the poetic license to invent and collapse facts and details in the name of the most compelling storytelling.
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By Mary Johnson, For The Baltimore Sun | June 12, 2014
Infinity Theatre Company opened its fifth season this month with "Hank Williams: Lost Highway," another professional production solidifying the company's reputation as the summer destination of fans seeking the best in local musical theater. Infinity's co-producing artistic directors, Anna Roberts Ostroff and Alan Ostroff, again bring an affordable, Broadway-caliber musical to Anna's hometown of Annapolis. Earlier seasons offered esteemed jukebox shows - "The Story of the Andrews Sisters" and "Always … Patsy Cline.
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ENTERTAINMENT
By David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun | March 9, 2012
Sarah Palin says it's a lie. Her press spokeswoman calls it "sick. " Other supporters of the former Alaska governor refer to it as a "hit job" - concocted by Hollywood leftists and the liberal media. Filmed in and around Baltimore last year, " HBO "s "Game Change," won't premiere until next Saturday. But even mostly sight unseen, the two-hour made-for-TV movie about John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign has generated a torrent of debate. Taking on a polarizing figure like Sarah Palin already makes "Game Change" one of the most evocative productions of the year.
ENTERTAINMENT
By David Zurawik and The Baltimore Sun | November 5, 2012
There is no TV genre more problematic than docudrama. And Sunday's premiere of "SEAL Team Six," which claims to be the true, inside story of the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, is as problematic as they come. The core issues all grow from the docudramatist's desire to have it both ways in mixing fact and fiction. The goal is to have the credibility of the documentary as well as the poetic license to invent and collapse facts and details in the name of the most compelling storytelling.
FEATURES
By David Zurawik | July 16, 1991
LOS ANGELES -- As if blending fact and fiction doesn't make most docudramas controversial and confusing enough, wait until you hear the howl over what Ted Turner has in store for cable viewers this fall.Turner Network Television (TNT) announced yesterday that it will air "Iran: Days of Crisis," a docudrama about the the taking of American hostages in 1979 and the behind-the-scenes machinations to get them released, this fall -- at the very same time when real-life hearings on the same topic are expected in Washington.
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By David Zurawik and David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic | September 25, 1990
The docudrama "Good Night, Sweet Wife: A Murder in Boston" is bad "docu" but good drama.CBS' dramatized version of the murder of Carol Stuart -- who was shot dead while on her way home with her husband from a childbirth class last October -- is filled with questionable facts and intimate events the filmmakers could only speculate about.The film itself carries this disclaimer: "The following story is based upon actual events as reconstructed from news reports and interviews with participants.
FEATURES
By David Zurawik and David Zurawik,Television critic | May 18, 1992
You could call "Calendar Girl, Cop, Killer? The Bambi Bembenek Story" a cheap piece of network sweeps trash.But it's not that good.The ABC made-for-TV movie is worth noting, though, because it suggests how advanced the brain and talent drain has become at the broadcast networks: They can't even make good sweeps sleaze any more.Most of the thinking on this film, which airs at 9 tonight on WJZ-Channel 13, appears to have gone into the advertising campaign. It features actress Lindsay Frost in fishnet stockings and a black bra with one of the shoulders straps worn off the shoulder.
FEATURES
By David Zurawik and David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic | January 31, 1995
All of the television news images you've seen 1,000 times since O.J. Simpson was charged with murder, you will see once more at 9 tonight on WBFF (Channel 45) when Fox airs "The O.J. Simpson Story."The "Sugarland Express" escort for the white Ford Bronco, the blood-spattered walkway leading to the Brentwood condo, the baseball bat taken to the windshield of Nicole Brown Simpson's sports car -- they are all in this made-for-TV movie."The O.J. Simpson Story" makes "The Amy Fisher Story" look like a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation.
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By David Zurawik and David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic | May 21, 1995
We almost did it. We almost managed to make it through a full television season without a rip-roaring debate about docudrama -- that much-maligned but highly popular formula built on the premise that the line between fact and fiction should be blurred.But now, in this last week of new programs for the 1994-1995 television year, come HBO's "Indictment: The McMartin Trial," ABC's "She Stood Alone: The Tailhook Scandal" and NBC's "Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story."Big names, big budgets, big controversy -- especially for "McMartin," which airs Tuesday, and will be repeated Saturday, May 31, June 5 and June 8. The executive producers are Oliver Stone, of "JFK" fame, and Abby Mann, whose career ranges from "Judgment at Nuremberg" to "The Atlanta Child Murders."
FEATURES
By David Zurawik and David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic | November 29, 1994
Did you know that on her first night in New York City, Madonna slept in an alley with rats crawling on her?Really, it's totally true. It's right there in the Fox docudrama "Madonna: Innocence Lost," starring Terumi Matthews, which airs at 8 tonight on WBFF (Channel 45). And the film is made by the same folks who brought us "Amy Fisher: My Story" and "Honor Thy Father and Mother: The True Story of the Menendez Brothers," two other totally true docudramas. So, like, let's not even question whether this is true, OK?
ENTERTAINMENT
By David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun | March 9, 2012
After weeks of partisan sniping, the public finally gets to judge HBO's Sarah Palin docudrama "Game Change" for itself this weekend. But the campaign for more politics as TV drama has only begun. Aaron Sorkin's "The West Wing" notwithstanding, prime-time television has never gone as far into the deep end of the political pool as it is about to do this year. At least four Washington-centric shows are in the works or set to premiere, including Maryland-based "VEEP" and "House of Cards.
ENTERTAINMENT
By David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun | March 9, 2012
Sarah Palin says it's a lie. Her press spokeswoman calls it "sick. " Other supporters of the former Alaska governor refer to it as a "hit job" - concocted by Hollywood leftists and the liberal media. Filmed in and around Baltimore last year, " HBO "s "Game Change," won't premiere until next Saturday. But even mostly sight unseen, the two-hour made-for-TV movie about John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign has generated a torrent of debate. Taking on a polarizing figure like Sarah Palin already makes "Game Change" one of the most evocative productions of the year.
ENTERTAINMENT
By David Zurawik and The Baltimore Sun | March 1, 2012
After a failed attempt last week by her Alaska posse to discredit the HBO docudrama "Game Change," Sarah Palin took another shot at the film Thursday. But again, it was not very effective, and it looks like she is mainly helping create more buzz for the Baltimore-made film that debuts March 10. This film seems to have really gotten under Palin's skin. And with good reason, the portrait it paints of her behavior during the 2008 presidential campaign will probably help guarantee that she will never hold high office outside of Alaska.
ENTERTAINMENT
By David Zurawik and The Baltimore Sun | February 15, 2012
I just walked out of a dark room after spending two hours with the screener for "Game Change," the HBO film about the 2008 Republican presidential campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin. Based on a best-selling, non-fiction book about the historic race, it was filmed last summer in and around Baltimore. Since this is sure to be only the first of many pieces I will write about this film between now and its March 10 premiere date on HBO, I am not going to wait for the churn of images, sounds, memories and thoughts to settle overnight.
ENTERTAINMENT
By David Zurawik and The Baltimore Sun | August 4, 2011
This year's Army-Navy game will be the focus if a two-hour docu-drama co-produced by Showtime and CBS Sports. Showtime's cameras are spending six months in full-access, backstage coverage of the two academies and their teams in advance of the the game, according to the cable channel. The docu-drama will premiere Dec. 21 on Showtime, 10 nights after the game, which airs on CBS. A preview on the making of the docu-drama will air Nov. 23 on Showtime. Viewers can get their first look at the material on Oct. 17 when CBS.com launches a 10-part web series.
NEWS
By Clarence Page | September 12, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Here are five words that I never expected to put together in the same sentence: Bill Clinton owes Rush Limbaugh. Yes, it was El Rushbo, hero of the right, who leaked word via his national radio show that the Clinton administration, target of the right, was about to be trashed in ABC's docudrama The Path to 9/11. Actually, Mr. Limbaugh's leak was more of a gusher. Boasting that the screenwriter, Cyrus Nowrasteh, is a friend of his, Mr. Limbaugh said the movie "indicts the Clinton administration, Madeleine Albright, Sandy Berger.
FEATURES
By David Zurawik and David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic | February 28, 1995
Mia Farrow is in bed with Frank Sinatra. It is clear that they have just made love. She's looking satisfied, while there is something between a leer and a smile on his face, when Old Blue Eyes leans over her and says, "How did you like it -- my way."The needle goes straight through the red, and the kitsch-o-meter explodes. Forget Madonna, Roseanne, O. J. Simpson and all the rest. Fox offers a watershed moment in docudrama sleaze and kitsch with "Love and Betrayal: The Mia Farrow Story," which airs at 8 tonight and Thursday on WBFF (Channel 45)
FEATURES
By David Zurawik and David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic | August 5, 1995
The atomic bomb gets the "Forrest Gump" treatment tomorrow night on Showtime, and the results are a mind-blowing film from director Roger Spottiswoode ("And the Band Played On"). "Hiroshima," a three-hour docudrama premiering at 8 Sunday night, takes 1945 newsreel film of President Harry Truman in Washington and Emperor Hirohito in Japan and marries it to a scripted drama with actors that is filmed to look like the 50-year-old black-and-white footage.This use of high-tech to look low-tech results in a seamless and relentlessly compelling docudrama that explores the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 50 years ago. LTC It's a triumph of docudrama technique, but it also raises serious questions about the hybrid of fact and fiction called docudrama, and the role such quasi-history on television plays in what we learn -- or don't learn -- about our national past.
FEATURES
By MICHAEL SRAGOW and MICHAEL SRAGOW,SUN MOVIE CRITIC | April 24, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Paul Greengrass, the British writer-director of the excitingly intelligent big-screen docudrama United 93, looks and sounds like a campus star from 35 years ago. He's got the shaggy hair, the furry, resonant voice and the Russian-revolutionary spectacles, and he cuts the right profile, tall and shambling yet also broad-shouldered and sturdy. He combines inner fire with lucidity and an air of ongoing challenge, like a guest speaker who'd fill a hall and leave his crowds stomping for more.
FEATURES
By David Zurawik and David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC | October 25, 2004
There comes a crucial point in The Brooke Ellison Story, an A&E cable movie directed by Christopher Reeve shortly before he died earlier this month, in which the mother of a young woman in a wheelchair speaks to her daughter about never giving up. "You're an adult now," the mother says through tears, "and there is a place for you in this world. But you have to decide if you are going to contribute to it, or be paralyzed." Reeve, of course, was paralyzed as the result of a riding accident in 1995, but he spent much of the rest of his life contributing to the world.
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