What Will The “Game Change” Sequel Be About?

The HBO film about Sarah Palin’s disastrous run for vice president was a buzzy award winner. Can it be topped?

The Associated Press / AP

Danny Strong and Jay Roach keep up with the news, even when it’s not going to serve as fodder for one of their movies.

Speaking with BuzzFeed at the Peabody Awards on Monday, the writer and director of last year’s HBO film Game Change, which chronicled Sarah Palin’s troubled bid for the vice presidency, tapped into one of several scandals broiling in Washington in service of a quick laugh.

“Danny and I are both being audited by the IRS because we had a fair [number of] mentions in our emails of ‘Tea Party’ and ‘Patriots,’” Roach joked, nodding to the current controversy over the federal agency’s recent admission that it targeted conservative organizations for extra scrutiny. “We’re having tax troubles now,” he added with a laugh.

The duo, who won Emmys last year for the film and were on hand to collect Peabodys for the effort as well, showed they could be bipartisan when it comes to gentle antagonism, but their next collaboration may be another tale of Republican drama. Just a month after the 2012 election, HBO announced that it was developing a film based on the forthcoming chronicle of the campaign by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, the authors of the book on which Game Change was based. Roach and Strong hedged when asked whether they would return for the sequel, but given their long, successful relationship (they also collaborated on HBO’s 2000 election film Recount) and chatter around the project, it’s not a bad bet that they’ll be back in the saddle for the premium cable network.

In fact, they’re willing to openly speculate about possible storylines that the movie could follow.

“The Republican primary, pre-Iowa caucus, was pretty amazing,” Strong said. “Just all those debates and all those characters. You had Herman Cain, Michele Bachman — it was the most amazing group of characters. Donald Trump, Rick Perry. You had a new hero of the week each week. As I was watching it, it was incredibly entertaining and pretty fascinating.”

Strong added: “And then the Iowa caucus came, and then it kind of wiped out the colorful, fringe candidates and was pretty much more just the serious people that had long careers in government. It got a little less entertaining, but I still enjoyed it.”

Roach was quick to point out that the Obama campaign had its “fascinating” moments as well, and they would wait to see what dirt Heilemann and Halperin produced for their book. In the meantime, he was willing to at least speculate what it would take to cast a Mitt Romney who could match up to Julianne Moore’s Emmy-winning portrayal of Sarah Palin.

“It’s interesting, performance does a lot of it, but the looks are important too,” the director said. “We would probably spend a ton of time, like we did with Sarah Palin, Photoshopping the hair, and you really have to sit and study people and make sure they can pull it off. Because they audience wants a little bit of verisimilitude on top of good performance.”

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