- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The stars soon invade the nation’s capital, complete with a red carpet, lights, maybe some action. HBO’s ballyhooed “Game Change,” a dramatic rendition of the 2008 presidential election, premieres Thursday evening at the glittering Newseum, right there on Pennsylvania Avenue, blocks from the White House itself. The film will air on the cable network Saturday.

The big arrivals include Julianne Moore, who portrays a carefully crafted Sarah Palin, updo and all. Executive producer Tom Hanks will be there, along with Sarah Paulson, who plays Sen. John McCain’s campaign aide Nicolle Wallace. Time magazine scribe Mark Halperin and John Heilemann of New York magazine — who actually wrote the book — will appear, along with director Jay Roach, screenwriter Danny Strong and producer Gary Goetzman.

The creators insist their film is “balanced,” and have voiced annoyance with conservatives and Republicans who have judged the film without viewing it, they say. Yeah well. That demographic likely will seek some counterbalance Sunday, when “The Undefeated,” a documentary about the former Alaska governor by conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon, makes its TV premiere on the ReelzChannel, an independent cable network.

HBO clearly has it in for Gov. Palin. It does nothing to rein in Bill Maher who consistently, and viciously, attacks her. And given there were much better storylines in the book — including how the Democratic primary fight was going to produce either the first woman or first African-American presidential nominee from a major party in history — the obsession with Gov. Palin betrays a very dark, disgusting side of Hollywood,” Keith Appell, a Washington-based PR executive who has promoted the documentary film, tells Inside the Beltway.

HERE COME THE IRISH

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Big doings as the sun sets Thursday, centered at a wee hotel within the shadow of the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Jerry Lewis, California Republican, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell are among those to receive the first Irish-American Public Service Awards from ThanksUSA, a nonprofit group providing scholarships for the children and spouses of active-duty military.

Among the guests who’ll revel under Gaelic chandeliers and Irish-made carpets: former Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and wife Sheila, plus world-renowned tenor Anthony Kearns, an original founding member of the Irish Tenors who sang at Mr. McDonnell’s inauguration in 2010.

“It’s an honor teaming up with Gov. McDonnell again to help the military. ThanksUSA does great work and I’m pleased we could get together to raise awareness and funds for this cause,” Mr. Kearns tells Inside the Beltway. “Music, our appreciation for the men and women in uniform, and our love of Ireland brings people together — including the governors from both sides of the Potomac. We might even get a song out of Gov O’Malley. I look forward to that.”

HOLA, AMERICA

Cultural moment: The State Department hosts the first Spanish-language press briefing on U.S. foreign policy issues on Thursday. Honors go to acting Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Mike A. Hammer, who will answer from the department’s briefing room lectern in Spanish — or as the agency puts it, Mr. Hammer “contestara preguntas en espanol desde el podio en la saga de prensa del Departamento.”

NEWT WON’T BUDGE

Aside from nudges from campaign rivals, the number of big public calls for Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich to drop out of the 2012 race and throw his support to Rick Santorum are actually few. But such demands fixate the press, ever eager to confront Mr. Gingrich and shout, “When? When? When will you leave?”

In recent weeks, National Review has suggested he exit the campaign trail. Santorum adviser Joe Brabender has said the same, as has Stuart Roy, a point man at the Santorum-friendly Red, White and Blue Fund super PAC. Longtime conservative maven Richard Viguerie has also joined the chorus.

“Looking at last night’s numbers, it has become increasingly clear that the former speaker can either be a kingmaker or a spoiler,” Mr. Viguerie observes. “Such a decision would not be easy for Newt and the loyal band that has kept his campaign alive through its many ups and downs. However, a united conservative movement is perhaps the only thing that can prevent a Romney nomination and the debacle of four more years of an Obama presidency.”

And Mr. Gingrich’s answer? Actions speak way louder than words. He will be campaigning in four states in the next 48 hours.

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