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"Also, I can kill you with my brain."
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May 06 2008

"Recount," written by Danny Strong, premieres on HBO May 25. HBO has a website up for "Recount" with trailers. Unfortunately, there are no writer (or director) credits on the trailers, but Danny (Jonathan) Strong received sole writing credit on the telefilm (per IMDB), so clearly there is life after dying in the Sunnydale High basement.

Well, we already knew what form that life takes. After dying in the Sunnydale High basement, the First takes over your image and returns to torment the person who killed you. And apparently It also starts writing made-for-TV movies. Who knew?
Well, some TV movies are clearly works of ultimate evil so that sort of makes sense.

Still looking forward to this, no matter how it turns out it'll at least be interesting on a few levels (the subject is interesting[ly terrifying] anyway, seeing how Danny Strong writes etc.) but i've fairly high hopes if they can avoid preachiness and just let the story "tell itself".
So looking forward to this. A great cast and a fascinating subject, though I'll be interested to see what, if any, political slant it has.
As I'm not American I don't know what happened except from the news reports we got here and what I've read on the net.
And so cool that I got to meet Danny in December and got to tell him in person that I was looking forward to seeing this. His script made the "Black List", a list of the most anticipated or highly reviewed scripts within the industry, a big deal.
He told me it had finished filming then so it's been a long wait for me.
I'll be interested to see what, if any, political slant it has

I spoke briefly with Danny when I was an extra on this last fall, and he said that he had made every effort to be balanced in the script, that he didn't think it would have have been picked up had it not been balanced.

The director is Jay Roach, of Austin Powers fame -- although don't expect this film to be like Austin Powers. Also helping with the directing was Michael Hausman, who worked on Brokeback Mountain. Hausman was the one who did much of the work with the huge crowd of extras for some of the, um, crowd scenes.

In seeing the trailers on HBO, I am absolutely amazed at how some things turn out on film based upon what they were like in real life. Real movie magic.

I wrote about my experiences on the film on flickr, if you want to read them. (They were also linked to from here last fall.)
With the best intentions in the world, I doubt it can help but have a political bias, and I go in knowing that. But honestly, it could be about hyena migration -- the point is, the dude has the writing credit on a highly publicized, sure-to-be-hot-button, sure-to-be-widely-seen-and-discussed HBO original. A brand that is almost incapable of producing any original film or miniseries that isn't solid gold (John Adams, Band of Brothers, etc).

Go Danny Strong.
I've been waiting for this to air for ages, and now it'll be showing on my almost-birthday, so tra-la for me.

I met Danny with zz9 at the infamous WGA Pencil Dropping Day last December - Jane E. brought him as her "Bring An Actor to the the Strike" rep. I had the most fun ever talking with him... bright, funny, ten kinds of fun.

He made this other woman and I tell him that he was the sexiest of all the Three, which was easy, since he was the one who was there talking with us.
I cannot wait for this.
It was a fun day QuoterGal, apart from Danny nearly poking my eye out with his strike sign. And getting shouted at by a Cop for crossing against a red light. (Police in the UK couldn't care less when you cross a street, lights or not)
And great to read your time on set Palehorse. From what I've heard actors playe all the main players except the two candidates who are shown with archive footage only. I'm interested to see how that comes out.
(Police in the UK couldn't care less when you cross a street, lights or not)

Just don't die in front of them, too much paperwork.

Is that considered "jaywalking" BTW ? I know that's when you cross at a place you're not meant to, wondered if it also covered when there's no "Walk" signal. Personally i'd probably swap "cross the road where you like" for "right to bear arms", i'd get more practical use out of it.
Actually, some local newscasters played TV reporters in the film -- so not all the parts were played by "actors." But you are correct, zz9, that all the major figures were played by actors, except for the candidates. It was interesting, also, to see a couple of the real people on set when actors playing them were being filmed. That must feel weird.

It will be interesting to see if some of the things they shot actually made it into the film. For example, a couple of extras -- a mother and her daughter, I think -- had come up with a patty-cake-type political routine that was actually quite fun, and Roach brought over a camera to film them. This would likely make it into the film only in some montage of crowd images, but it was a way for them to get 15 seconds of fame, perhaps.
Well, depending on the arms you bear, Saje, you coul probably cross the street anywhere, anytime you want.

I do believe that walking against the "walk" signal can be considered "jaywalking". Just assuming (no facts). They probably wouldn't care too much unless you were endangering yourself or others. That street in front of FOX was quite busy during the strikes. I wouldn't recommend anyone crossing that without safety.
Saje: Is that considered "jaywalking" BTW ? I know that's when you cross at a place you're not meant to, wondered if it also covered when there's no "Walk" signal.

I believe so, Saje, although that depends on a number of factors, including the fact that there's great swaths of the town that don't have any of these signals - stop or crossing signals -so you'd have to walk in perpetual circles if you didn't cross without a "walk" signal. And whether or not they they ticket you for the various jaywalk/crossing infractions seems to depend greatly on the mood of the policeman who witnesses your transgression.

For instance, I watched a cop give my partner a ticket because the cop said he started crossing when the signal started to change (he didn't.) And I've crossed the street in the wrong place and even started talking to a nearby cop - gazillions of times - without ever getting a ticket. Yet - when they started cleaning up the tent city part of downtown, they were busting the homeless left and right for similar infractions.

So go know.
According to wikipedia, you can get a ticket for not following the pedestrian signal:

Almost all urban areas in the United States and Canada require pedestrians to cross at crosswalks or intersections and to obey pedestrian traffic signals. Jaywalking is primarily considered an infraction but in some jurisdictions, it is a misdemeanor or requires a court appearance. It typically carries a warning or modest fine or not more than one week in jail. In some cities (e.g. New York City), although still illegal, jaywalking is so common that it is generally considered harmless, and police only detain jaywalkers if their behavior is excessively dangerous or disruptive.

Penalties for jaywalking vary by municipality. For example, in Tempe, AZ, as of June 2006 jaywalking carried fines up to $118. A sampling of other U.S. cities found fines ranging from $1[6] to $750.

*my emphasis*

It's purely subjective.
A week in jail for jaywalking? No wonder we've got the world's fullest jails. Or is it all those pot smokers?

I hope "Recount" will be available somewhere for non-HBO havers.
I noticed HUGE posters for this in Manhattan last weekend and had to stop and find his name. It was pretty sweet.
I seem to have derailed this thread somewhat but this cop, sitting on his bike on a red, called out on his loudspeaker when we crossed this tiny, almost single lane, road leading off a main road with lights. I don't remember if it had a "Walk/Dont Walk" sign but I thought that pedestrians have to treat the main red light as a red for them as well?
And due to parking/traffic I got to the last delivery too late, the cops there threatened to arrest everyone, including Joss and Ron Moore, if we didn't leave! Not wishing Joss a night in the cells but it would have made the news!

I noticed HUGE posters for this in Manhattan last weekend and had to stop and find his name. It was pretty sweet.
Typical for movie posters. Actor, and often the director, get their name in huge letters while the writers is buried at the bottom in text 0.5 millimeteres high. The WGA, next time, should demand writers get a bigger credit, especially for movies they originated as a spec. Writers will remain poorly paid and treated as long as they remain unknown by the public. The more recognition they get, the more people who will say "I'm going to see this movie because I like the writers previous stuff!, the more they can demand better treatment.

[ edited by zz9 on 2008-05-07 00:12 ]

[ edited by zz9 on 2008-05-07 00:12 ]
Wow - not an easy poster to find online.

Here's a little coverage of the movie's reception in Washington - and here, too.

It must have been utterly freaky to be Danny during these showings - sitting in the audience and watching it with the very politicians that you wrote about in your film.

Umm... chads. Delicious, delicious chads.

ETF: my tenses were making me tense.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2008-05-07 03:12 ]
Chris Mathews of MSNBC's Hardball mentioned the film and Washington screening during his before-the-polls-closed coverage tonight.
Good reviews QG.
Any chance this will get a cinema release? If not in the US then abroad? It's not a subject matter that will make it a smash hit but I know I'd see it if it was shown here. We got plenty of coverage of the "hanging chads" here so it's not like no one would know what they were talking about.
I am so impressed and so looking forward to this. Not only is HBO synonymous with quality productions, but the cast, as well as the executive production team, reads like a Hollywood who's who of people who put out really good work. Yay Danny!

zz9, I don't think HBO productions ever get released in theaters, but it could be available online, I know that HBO does a lot of "on demand".

If you click on the movie title (on the linked page), Danny is credited at the bottom. Even a "formerly of" BtVS mention.

Palehorse, were you actually in the presence of Kevin Spacey at any time? :)
I'd bet it would have a ready audience in Europe if they wanted to show it (maybe even in a limited cinema run). We lap up Michael Moore's films for instance (though I hope 'Recount' is substantially more balanced and less sensationalist than those, entertaining though I sometimes find them).

... so you'd have to walk in perpetual circles if you didn't cross without a "walk" signal.

Or drive across the road ;-).

It must have been utterly freaky to be Danny during these showings - sitting in the audience and watching it with the very politicians that you wrote about in your film.

And pretty freaky for them too i'd imagine. But yeah that'd be like playing someone in a biopic and then sitting next to them at the premiere. Hello, awkward ?

Ta all for the jaywalking clarification. Never mind language, clearly we're one culture separated by a green cross code ;).
Saje, is that Wikipedia link for real? (Stephen Colbert taught me that you can edit Wikipedia to claim the world is flat, until someone re-edits you).
Because if it's real, then the insanity of the plague on humankind known as "bureaucracy" is not exclusive to the U.S., as I sometimes think, when I have to deal with it.

Come to think of it, a Brit made "Brazil". I guess I've answered my own question. How depressing.

ETA: If you think Michael Moore's Sicko was "sensationalist", that's because you've never had to deal with the U.S. so-called Health Care system.

[ edited by Shey on 2008-05-07 11:41 ]
Actually i've not seen 'Sicko' yet (though I gather it paints an extremely rosy picture of the NHS which in reality, despite the almost super-heroic efforts of the doctors and nurses on the front line, is creaking ever closer to total collapse) but 'Fahrenheit 9/11' definitely went for sensation. I don't mind rhetoric to make a point but with something like that your facts and arguments have to be bullet-proof because they will be attacked by the "other side" and the only people you "convince" are the ones on your side already.

And yep the Green Cross Code is completely real (though Colbert's broadly right about editing Wikipedia) and I remember having a visit from the Green Cross Code Man at school (as played by Dave 'Darth Vader' Prowse). Apart from road safety he did this thing where he twitched his pecs which made the entire school laugh ;).

I don't really see it as bureaucracy gone mad though, it's just a national campaign to encourage kids to cross the road safely (it doesn't, for instance, legally prohibit them from doing so at certain places ;). We also have adverts cautioning against dangerous/improper use of fireworks around bonfire night as well as regular (sometimes fairly gruesome) campaigns to encourage people not to speed (watch it to the end, I promise it's a happy one ;) or drink and drive etc. Don't you guys have public safety adverts ?
Oh, c'mon. Just put all those people in jail. That'll learn 'em.
And we could solve prison over-crowding by only jailing the kids that make it to the other side ;-).
Palehorse, were you actually in the presence of Kevin Spacey at any time?

Just getting back to the thread -- so pardon my interrupting the direction of the thread to answer a question from above.

And the answer is a resounding "YES!" For eight takes I got to walk right by him for a distance of about 30 yards or so. I was a "reporter" and I was one of the reporters trying to get him and the character played by Ed Begley, Jr., to answer questions. Since there were other things going on in the scene, I doubt that much if any of the walk will actually make it into the film, but I still got the experience. Sadly, Spacey had no lines and he was supposed to be angry and ignoring the press, so there was no interaction. But I still got the experience. Ed Begley, on the other hand, answered every inane question we could come up with as extras -- with some questions we tried to pretend we knew what was going on (we extras had no clue what was what and had to respond merely to what we saw), questions about the weather, about whether they had a good lunch, etc. (We were walking away from the cameras and weren't miked.)

My Spacey walk occurs right after Spacey and Begley come out of the courthouse doors to the masses of reporters and crowds waiting for news. The reporters were supposed to be milling about , talking with one another until we see them come out of the courthouse. I had been placed in a group of reporters a little distant from the doors. When the first take took place, none of the extras actually moved toward the doors when the actors came through them, so I just yelled, "There they are!" to try to get them moving. Well, in the succeeding seven takes, the extras actually waited until I did the same, so that became my line. If they keep that bit of sound in the film, which is unlikely, you'll know that was yours truly.

Otherwise, I will just be a face (or a raised hand) in the crowd of reporters. There is a scene in the trailers where Spacey et al. are walking up the steps into the supreme court building, and I am in the front row at the bottom of the stairs in that scene. It goes by so quickly that I have not actually spotted myself, but when I can tape the film, I will certainly go through that scene in slo-mo to find myself.

[ edited by palehorse on 2008-05-07 14:48 ]
Sounds like quite the experience Palehorse.

In Sweden we have the fond memory of a public service advert from long ago (70's) encouraging us to eat 6-8 slices of bread each day, it made the department responsible a laughing stock but they still thought it was money well spent, some experts thought people ate to little bread and bread is good for you, somehow.
pardon my interrupting the direction of the thread
Getting it back on topic--you've got a lotta nerve. :)

Good story. I'll be listening for "There they are," so I can say, "Hey, I know her!" (uh, sort of).

jpr: 8 slices of bread? And to think that now we are told that bread is the staff of Satan.
Exactly, 2 decades later it turns out bread increases the risk of some cancers (white bread anyway). I'm still hopeful we'll find out cigarettes are good for us after all ;).

(course, in fairness, I suspect being hit by a car is always going to be bad for you ;)

... so pardon my interrupting the direction of the thread to answer a question from above.

I should think so too, I mean, a post actually on topic ? Unforgivable ! ;-)

Nice account, ta palehorse.
In the US we have TONS of safety videos. I just watched a 5 minute one form the 1970s. Give me a while to find a good one (one to write home and scare the children with).
Well, there are always the classics: the "duck & cover" films from the 50s and the "this is your brain on drugs" from the 80s.
That David Lynch one is fantastic.
He should've made a version for schools--"Keep the campus clean." It would be so motivational for students.
Jesus, David Lynch has got some issues. Still, effective - I almost booked a ticket just so I could go and pick up some litter ;). And that 'Warning to Girls ...' started off looking like it'd be chuckle worthy and then actually got a bit disturbing.

Drink Driving
Talk to Frank (anti-drugs)
Fire Alarms (are a really good idea)

And from my youth (ish ;):

Escalators (will kill your Wellies !)
Electricity Pylons (forget leukaemia clusters, kites are the real danger !)
Don't go with strangers (cos Charlie says ;)
Protect and Survive (our Duck and Cover) (you get cute turtles and catchy ditties, we get some posh English bloke ordering us about. Says it all really ;)
OK, I've watched all those & I'm feeling thoroughly forewarned.

I suppose the new ones are more effective (although "Talk to Frank" was pretty weird), but I really love the boots on the escalator. Macabre and yet silly, what a great combination.

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