- - Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The ReelzChannel television network says it scheduled a pro-Sarah Palin documentary on the same weekend as HBO’s “Game Change” debut strictly for business considerations, not political ones.

“The Undefeated,” a Palin documentary by conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon, will have its television premiere Sunday. It will come 23 hours after HBO debuts “Game Change,” based on the 2008 campaign book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, and starring Julianne Moore as Mrs. Palin.

Stan Hubbard, ReelzChannel CEO, told the Associated Press he licensed “The Undefeated” for the same reason his network aired “The Kennedys” miniseries last spring after it was dropped by History Channel — to draw attention to a nearly 6-year-old network with a low public profile. ReelzChannel is in 62 million homes, a little more than half the country.

“For a young network, public relations is important to us, which is why we hunt for opportunistic things,” Mr. Hubbard said.

Mr. Hubbard said he found the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate a fascinating figure, but he wasn’t trying to lionize her.

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“If HBO wanted to swap movies this weekend, I’d do that in a second,” he said.

Mrs. Palin’s supporters have attacked “Game Change,” although it’s unclear whether any of them have seen it in advance. Mr. Bannon called it a “fictionalized hit-piece” and has praised ReelzChannel’s “courageous” decision to air his movie.

The writer and director of “Game Change” both welcomed “The Undefeated” onto TV.

Writer Danny Strong said he was happy for Mr. Bannon: “It’s hard for a documentary to get any kind of play. I’m not concerned at all about comparisons to our piece. I just think it’s another story, another element of her life.”

Director Jay Roach said that any time a film can add to the conversation it’s good. “I’m happy that the two films might stir it up a little bit,” he said.

Since ReelzChannel announced last month that it would air “The Undefeated,” Mr. Hubbard said he has received about an equal number of letters from people thanking him for the decision or saying they’d never watch ReelzChannel again.

McCreery records song to serenade ‘Idol’ castoffs

Scotty McCreery has snagged a new role on “American Idol” as the voice of the so-called “voted-off song,” which serenades teary-eyed castoffs after they hear the bad news from Ryan Seacrest.

The baritone twang of last season’s winner will be heard on a cover of Tim McGraw’s “Please Remember Me” starting Thursday on “Idol’s” results show. Wednesday night features performances by the top 13 finalists, one of whom is slated for elimination.

“I was ecstatic and I’m glad to get to be on there. It’s cool to still be connected to the show every week,” Mr. McCreery told USA Today.

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