November 18, 2010, just six months ago and right after the midterm election, Sarah Palin launched her TLC miniseries, Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Quickly, as 2011 got underway the political world threw the spotlight on the 2012 Presidential sweepstakes. My own Michele Bachmann was the top first quarter fundraiser. President Obama began his reelection campaign in April with the goal of establishing a new one quarter fundraising record. Sarah Palin strangely was not doing things a potential candidate does.
Just Monday, former Palin aide Frank Bailey, introduced his shoveling dirt at Sarah Palin “Memoir,” Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin. 24 hours later his book was largely discredited and . . .
A Real Clear Politics Real big Scoop
Shortly after Republicans swept last November to a historic victory in which Sarah Palin was credited with playing a central role, the former Alaska governor pulled aside her close aide, Rebecca Mansour, to discuss a hush-hush assignment: Reach out
to conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon with a request. Ask him if he would make a series of videos extolling Palin’s governorship and laying to rest lingering questions about her controversial decision to resign from office with a year-and-a-half left in her first term. It was this abdication, Palin knew, that had made her damaged goods in the eyes of some Republicans who once were eager to get behind her potential 2012 presidential campaign.
The response was more positive than Palin could have hoped for. He’d make a feature-length movie, Bannon told Mansour, and he insisted upon taking complete control and financing it himself — to the tune of $1 million.
The fruits of that initial conversation are now complete. The result is a two-hour-long, sweeping epic, a rough cut of which Bannon screened privately for Sarah and Todd Palin last Wednesday in Arizona, where Alaska’s most famous couple has
been rumored to have purchased a new home. When it premieres in Iowa next month, the film is poised to serve as a galvanizing prelude to Palin’s prospective presidential campaign — an unconventional reintroduction to the nation that she and her political team have spent months eagerly anticipating, even as Beltway Republicans have largely concluded that she won’t run.
Bannon, a former naval officer and ex-Goldman Sachs banker, sees his documentary as the first step in Palin’s effort to rebuild her image in the eyes of voters who may have soured on her, yet might reconsider if old caricatures begin to fade. The film will also appeal to staunch Palin supporters who have long celebrated her
biting rhetoric and conservative populism yet know little about her record in Alaska and have perhaps written her off as presidential material.
“This film is a call to action for a campaign like 1976: Reagan vs. the establishment,” Bannon told RealClearPolitics. “Let’s have a good old-fashioned brouhaha.”
RealClearPolitics was recently given an exclusive screening of a rough cut of the now finished film, which Bannon designed, in part, to help catapult Palin from the presidential afterthought she has become in the eyes of many pundits directly to the front lines of the 2012 GOP conversation.
Palin initially learned about Bannon’s work after she saw one of his previous films about the origins of the tea party movement, “Generation Zero,” which premiered last year in Nashville and was later aired in prime time on the Fox News Channel. Impressed, Palin promoted “Generation Zero” via Twitter before later reaching out to Bannon about creating something to highlight her record in Alaska, where her performance in office was overshadowed by her resignation eight months after the 2008 presidential election.
Though she did not have any editorial role in the project, Palin facilitated access for Bannon and his film crew to key Alaskan defenders who were involved with the major achievements of her administration, and the filmmaker spent several weeks in the 49th state gathering archival film and conducting research and interviews for the project. He and his team took extraordinary measures to keep their endeavor secret.
When they requested from Alaska’s TV news stations footage that was shot during Palin’s political rise, they asked for additional tapes containing subject matters that were irrelevant to their project, in order not to raise suspicions. And rather than staying at the well-appointed Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, they
instead took up temporary residence in low-key motels.
“We shot on the weekends, and we shot in locations that weren’t being used during those weekends,” Bannon said. “I did it with a handpicked crew of people I know and trust, and we were able to stay under the radar. The planning for the secrecy of this took many, many weeks.”
Bannon originally titled his film “Take a Stand,” which was the campaign slogan for Palin’s 2006 gubernatorial run when she defeated incumbent Republican Frank Murkowski in the primary before cruising in the general election to become Alaska’s youngest — and first female — chief executive. But in order to give it a more triumphant punch, the filmmaker changed the title to “The Undefeated.”
Bannon acquired the audio rights to Palin’s 2009 bestseller, “Going Rogue,” and the former vice-presidential nominee’s voice guides the film through the various stages of her career in Alaska.
Although Palin is not interviewed directly, the film features on-camera interviews and commentaries from 10 Alaskans who played different roles in her political rise, as well as six Lower 48 denizens who defend her in more visceral terms, including prominent conservative firebrands Mark Levin, Andrew Breitbart and Tammy Bruce.
Divided into three acts, the film makes the case that despite the now cliched label, Palin was indeed a maverick who confronted the powerful forces lined up against her to achieve wide-ranging success in a short period of time. The second part of the film’s message is just as clear, if more subjective: that Sarah Palin is
the only conservative leader who can both build on the legacy of the Reagan Revolution and bring the ideals of the tea party movement to the Oval Office.
Rife with religious metaphor and unmistakable allusions to Palin as a Joan of Arc-like figure, “The Undefeated” echoes Palin’s “Going Rogue” in its tidy division of the world between the heroes who are on her side and the villains who seek to thwart her at every turn.
To convey Bannon’s view of the pathology behind Palin-hatred, the film begins with a fast-paced sequence of clips showing some of the prominent celebrities who have used sexist, derogatory and generally vicious language to describe her.
Rosie O’Donnell, Matt Damon, Bill Maher, David Letterman, and Howard Stern all have brief cameos before comedian Louis C.K. goes off on a particularly ugly anti-Palin riff.
“I hate her more than anybody,” C.K. says at the end of his tirade, the rest of which is unfit to print here.
Bannon intends to release two versions of the film. An unrated edition will contain some obscene anti-Palin language and imagery, while the other is targeted to a general audience and will seek a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America.
The Making of a Politician
After a brief interlude featuring some old Palin family home video footage, Act 1 begins with Sarah as narrator, recalling the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, when she was a young pregnant wife married to a blue-collar husband working on the North Slope.
“I hadn’t yet envisioned running for elected office,” Palin says in the audio taken from “Going Rogue,” as images of the environmental disaster unfold on the screen. “But looking back, I could see that tragedy planted a seed in me. If I ever had a chance to serve my fellow citizens, I would do so.”
An incredible (Timed perfectly?) first day of an imagination capturing roll out. Read it all here.