Danny Strong: ‘Game Change’ scripter surprised at lack of backlash
After a lengthy career as a character actor on such shows as "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer," "Gilmore Girls," and "Mad Men," Danny Strong is now enjoying great success as the writer of political dramas. He was nominated for an Emmy in 2008 for the George W. Bush vs. Al Gore "Recount" television movie and has a great shot at winning the writing award this September for "Game Change."
That HBO film tells the story of the 2008 presidential campaign for Republican nominee John McCain (Ed Harris), his campaign advisor Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson), and the surprising, selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) as a running mate. In a video interview with Gold Derby, Strong said, "They're really fascinating stories, and they're really dramatic stories. You've got extremely high stakes. You've got the issues being dealt with being some of the most important issues in this country, and it just makes it very ripe for high drama."
He added that both "Recount" and "Game Change" featured, "really great fantastic personalities, some of them very larger than life, and all of them are in very, very dramatic, powerful, intense situations. When you combine all that together, you just keep your fingers crossed that is will make for a good movie."
The film's producers, director Jay Roach, and Strong were prepared for an outcry from conservatives, but it didn't really materialize. He said, "It was an extremely minimal conservative backlash. The only backlash was amongst Sarah Palin's aides, and those are people who are on Sarah Palin's payroll. As far as the mainstream conservative press – the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, Fox News – I felt that there was very little backlash to the film, and I think part of that was because of how fair the film was and how the film went to great pains to show you Sarah Palin's point of view and John McCain's point of view."
Next up, Strong continues with political themes as the co-writer of the feature film "The Butler," which tells the story of a long-serving African-American butler in the White House from the Dwight Eisenhower years through the Ronald Reagan administration. It will be a 2013 release directed by Oscar nominee Lee Daniels and stars Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, and Jane Fonda. He is also adapting "The Lost Symbol," the third novel in the Robert Landgon series by Dan Brown ("The Da Vinci Code"), for star Tom Hanks.