Reporters Who Cover Politics today pored over thousands of formerly withheld documents from the Clinton White House released from the National Archives. With Hillary Clinton already an official presumed presidential candidate in 2016, as NBC and CNN …
Super Bowl XLVIII: total bust as a game, middling year for ads – though outrage was tearing up Twitter by the time the game sputtered to a close over a Coke commercial in which “America the Beautiful” was …
Once again, Nelson Mandela is breaking down barriers. This time it is American political barriers for the upcoming Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom. The Weinstein Company said today that former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell as well as 2008 GOP Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain will co-host a special screening of the Justin Chadwick-directed film at the Kennedy Center. It will take place in DC on November 20 with Weinstein Co co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, Chadwick and co-star Naomie Harris set to attend. This latest Mandela screening in DC comes the same day college students will be able to see the film for free in Georgetown as part of an 8-city tour the Weinsteins and Coke-Cola are offering across the country. It also comes just over two weeks after a special screening of the film was held at the White House with star Idris Elba among those in attendance with President Obama and longtime supporter Weinstein.
NBC News this morning illustrated why it was naive of NBC Entertainment to have assumed it could air a Hillary Clinton miniseries before Clinton declared her intentions about another possible run at the White House, as if that formality still mattered in the rough and tumble of political life (NBC News was among the parties unhappy about the now-dead project):
NBC NEWS POLL: CHRISTIE TRAILS CLINTON IN HYPOTHETICAL 2016 MATCH-UP, FACES DIVIDED GOP
WASHINGTON, DC– Nov. 12, 2013– A new NBC News poll reveals that in a hypothetical 2016 general election match up, 44 percent of all adults would support Hillary Clinton, while 34 percent would support Chris Christie. The rest of respondents either preferred another candidate, said they would not vote, or were undecided.
The poll – conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International after Gov. Christie’s resounding re-election victory last week – also contains this other result: Democratic primary voters are significantly more unified about a potential Clinton candidacy than Republican primary are about a possible Christie bid.
Thirty-two percent of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents say they would vote for Christie in a GOP presidential primary, while 31 percent prefer another Republican candidate.
By comparison, 66 percent of Democratic or Democratic-leaning respondents say they’d back Clinton in a Democratic primary, versus just 14 percent who say they’d vote for another candidate.
She may not be a 2016 Presidential candidate yet but the former Secretary of State will be packing in a lot of face time with Hollywood over the next couple of days. On Friday afternoon, Hillary Clinton will be speaking along with her daughter Chelsea at an event co-sponsored by the Producers Guild of America and the Clinton Foundation. The focus of the gathering is education and national service. PGA President Mark Gordonwill give opening remarks and act as emcee for the event, I’ve learned. Rob Reiner, a big backer of President Bill Clinton and Hillary, will be moderating the conversation between the two Clintons. Claiming security reasons, the PGA and the foundation are staying mum about the event’s location. Also, like many recent Clinton events and her visit to San Francisco later this weekend, media are blocked from gathering. (UPDATE, 2:38 PM: The organizers don’t want to give out the location but Hillary Clinton’s PGA event tomorrow will be held at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills, I’ve learned. It’s scheduled to run from approximately 1 PM to 3 PM on Friday.) The Clinton Foundation says that Scandal creator and recently named Kennedy Center board member Shonda Rhimes is scheduled to attend. CBS’ Nina Tassler, Shine America’s Rich Ross, Fox’s Kevin Reilly, Modern Family EP Steve Levitan, Parenthood EP Jason Katims and New Girl EP Liz Meriwether are also set to be there.
She hasn’t officially thrown her hat in the 2016 Presidential ring but Hillary Clinton is already out there raising money from Hollywood. The former Secretary of State and presumed Democratic candidate is the marquee name for a $15,000-a-ticket fundraiser on October 30 at the Beverly Hills home of Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl, according to an invite that went out this week. Selling tickets individually or for $25,000 a couple, the lunch on the day before Halloween lunch is actually for former DNC chair and longtime Clinton pal Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia Governor bid. With that election on November 5, Clinton and her husband Bill Clinton have a number of McAuliffe events scheduled in the next week, and on Monday the DNC sent out a McAuliffe donation solicitation email from Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is lining up Hollywood support if she makes her widely expected 2016 decision to run. Deep-pocket donors like Saban, Peter Chernin, and Jeffrey Katzenberg as well as the likes of Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams have pledged financial support to a Clinton 2016 campaign once it is made official, sources say. Chernin, Katzenberg, Spielberg and Abrams were all hefty financial backers of President Obama, both in the 2012 election and in the lead-up to next year’s mid-terms.
2ND UPDATE 6:30 PM: The Republican National Committee is taking credit for NBC and CNN deep-sixing what the group calls “their Hillary Clinton infomercials”. In August, the RNC threatened to block both networks from the 2016 presidential debates if they were forward with their Clinton programs. Here RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski’s statement on their cancellation: “This was only the first step in the Republican Party taking control of our debate process. The purpose of our party’s debates is to better inform our grassroots and those participating in Republican primaries and caucuses. Now that CNN and NBC have canceled their Hillary Clinton infomercials, we will work on developing a new debate model that will address the timing, frequency, moderators and venues that will come in the next few months. Any media organization looking to be part of the debate process will have to comply with the new system.”
UPDATED, 3:18 PM: Having lost its production partner on its Hillary Clinton miniseries back in August, and with all the brouhaha that had erupted over its Clinton mini (and CNN’s documentary), NBC planned to announce that its biopic was a goner sometime down the road, a source tells us. But when CNN this morning announced the demise of its Clinton documentary, NBC pounced on the opportunity to slip its news into the CNN story, rather than have reporters pound away with will-NBC-or-won’t-NBC sidebars and second-day stories. This is known as taking out all the dirty laundry in one afternoon — public relations 101.
Now CNN has bailed on its plans for a Hillary Clinton documentary, but insisted the director made the call. The news comes just weeks after NBC issued a statement saying its Hillary Clinton miniseries — which was the biggest bit of news at its TCA Summer TV Press Tour appearance — was after all only a project in development and might never see the light of day (translation: don’t hold your breath). CNN let it be known this morning its CNN Films division had informed the mothership it would not move ahead on its Clinton docu – because the director had bowed out. “Charles Ferguson has informed us that he is not moving forward with his documentary about Hillary Clinton … [W]e won’t seek other partners and are not proceeding with the film,” CNN Worldwide told Politico. Message of the message: CNN did not decide to cancel the docu — it was the director’s decision.
In one of those incredible coincidences that makes this industry so interesting, Ferguson this very morning wrote a blog post published on Huffington Post, in which he complained pressure from Clinton’s camp and the Republican National Committee led many of his prospective interviewees to give him a “no dice” response to appearing in the docu. He expresses surprise to discover “that nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. Not Democrats, not Republicans — and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, wants access to the Clintons, or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration. Not even journalists who want access, which can easily be taken away. I even sensed potential difficulty in licensing archival footage from CBN (Pat Robertson) and from Fox. After approaching well over a hundred people, only two persons who had ever dealt with Mrs. Clinton would agree to an on-camera interview, and I suspected that even they would back out.”
Discussing his latest career move as star of CNN’s resuscitated Crossfire, a few days before its launch, Newt Gingrich said it is not possible to make a “neutral” documentary about Hillary Clinton. Which is just what his new network has proposed to do. Asked his thoughts on the Republican National Committee’s decision last month to block CNN from GOP presidential primary debates during the 2016 election cycle because it is working on a Clinton docu, Gingrich said he thought CNN — and NBC, which has said it is developing a Hillary Clinton miniseries — should offer equal time. “I actually don’t believe you can create a neutral documentary about Hillary Clinton,” Gingrich said. Gingrich never did say what he thought about the RNC’s decision to block CNN from the GOP primary debates; the RNC also voted to block NBC from the debates because of its Clinton miniseries project, which Gingrich also called a “documentary.
“I don’t see it as a giant deal,” he said of the CNN docu, adding, “I don’t think Hillary’s survival or failure are going to rest on these two documentaries.”
UPDATED WITH RATINGS: Alec Baldwin will host a new MSNBC current events and culture talk show, 10 PM Fridays, the cable news net announced. Up Late With Alec Baldwin will launch in October. The news ends months of speculation the actor was getting a new late-ish talker (though, back in April, when word first broke out, the NYT reported he was in talks with NBC broadcast network, and the show was Last Call, which continues to be hosted by Carson Daly. More recently, the speculation migrated to MSNBC). The prospect of a Baldwin-hosted show for the cable news network became a talking point in the Republican National Committee’s state of upset last month about NBC’s plans to air a miniseries about presumed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Specifically, the RNC cried “hooey,” when NBC News’ White House Correspondent Chuck Todd also complained about the miniseries, calling it a “total nightmare” of which the news division would “only own the negative” despite a firewall between it and NBC Entertainment, pointing out former 30 Rock star Baldwin, also a favorite Saturday Night Live host, was about to get his own show on MSNBC. The RNC went on to vote to block NBC from presidential primary debates during the 2016 election cycle because of the miniseries. And now it appears the Hillary Clinton miniseries likely is dead — and Baldwin has his MSNBC show.
Year to date in the Friday 10 p.m. hour — which, maybe not coincidentally, is also Bill Maher’s timeslot on HBO — MSNBC has been running well behind its cable news competitors, averaging 475,000 viewers to CNN’s 607,000 with Anderson Cooper, and Fox News Channel’s 1.41 million with Greta Van Susteren. In the news demo, 25-54, MSNBC has been averaging 171,000 viewers, trailing CNN’s 220,000 and FNC’s 271,000.
UPDATE, 1:30 PM: “Any concerns the Clinton team had are all gone. This puts the ‘P’ in puff piece,” a Republican National Committee rep said this afternoon, in response to our report about the announcement by CNN Films that it had hired senior director Courtney Sexton, who previously oversaw Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and the bio-docu Jimmy Carter Man From Plains among many other projects. “What’s next: Michael Moore directing?” added Sean Spicer, the RNC’s communications director, in an email to Politico about Deadline’s coverage of the hire.
PREVIOUS: CNN Films, the division of CNN Worldwide responsible for commissioning the documentary about Hillary Clinton that’s got the RNC’s knickers in a knot, today announced it is welcoming Courtney Sexton to its Los Angeles team as senior director. The Republican National Committee may latch on to this news — in much the same way it did reports MSNBC was giving Alec Baldwin a program — because Sexton has spent the last eight years working with Participant Media where, CNN noted, she managed from development to release such documentary films as An Inconvenient Truth. That’s the Oscar-winning docu about former Veep Al Gore’s global warming campaign. Other titles Sexton shepherded include Jimmy Carter Man From Plains, among many titles. Prior to joining Participant, Sexton worked for two years with filmmaker Davis Guggenheim — An Inconvenient Truth’s director — on the HBO series Deadwood, among other projects.
NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd — the guy who complained NBC News would only “own the negative” aspects of NBC Entertainment’s planned Hillary Clinton miniseries, seemed in a much better mood this morning, after NBC Entertainment said late Friday the mini might never be programmed. …
NBC began to circle the wagons on its Hillary Clinton miniseries this afternoon, hours after the Republican National Committee blocked the network from GOP primary debates, calling the miniseries a Clinton promo. “The Hillary Clinton movie has not been ordered to production, only a script is being written at this time,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said this afternoon in a statement. “It is ‘in development’, the first stage of any television series or movie, many of which never go to production. Speculation, demands, and declarations pertaining to something that isn’t created or produced yet seem premature,” he added. The statement was issued not long after word got out that Fox TV Studio, which had been in early stages of talks to produce the miniseries, would not move ahead with the project about the former First Lady and Secretary of State.
NBC’s took on this headache when Greenblatt made the Clinton miniseries one of his big announcements at his Summer TCA Press Tour appearance on July 27. Network execs like to come to Press Tour with these kinds of bright shiny lights, to distract the press so they don’t ask too many uncomfortable questions about ratings and some of their new series pickups, etc. Greenblatt announced that the network was preparing the four-hour miniseries as part of an ambitious slate of longform projects with which he hopes to make noise and boost ratings. “We need to be in the event business,” Greenblatt said back then.
NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd went on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning to whine about NBC Entertainment’s plans for a Hillary Clinton miniseries. “A total nightmare” for the news division, Todd called it. What’s knotting his knickers is a recent threat by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to yank primary debates from NBC after NBC Entertainment announced it had bought a Hillary Clinton miniseries. “There’s nothing we can do about it and we’re going to only own the negative,” Todd complained of the Clinton mini, announced at the just-wrapped Summer TV Press Tour 2013. “People are going to see the peacock, and they see NBC,” he said of the project, which NBC Entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt said he hoped to broadcast before Clinton might declare a presidential run.
Here may be a good place to mention NBC News signed Chelsea Clinton to a short-term contract as a “special correspondent” in the fall of 2011 and renewed in ’12.