The Game Changer

Earlier this week we learned courtesy of Variety that Danny Strong is on the short-list of writers being courted to pen the screenplays for both Mockingjay Part I and Mockingjay Part II. Twiffidy covered this story earlier this week as well, but she admitted that she hasn’t seen Strong’s award winning film, which he took home the coveted Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or TV-movie, so I took one for the team, and watched the Sarah Palin-centric HBO film, and have come to a resounding conclusion on Strong’s writing chops– he’s honestly a solid choice for writing the screenplays for the last chapters in the trilogy. I’ll get this out of the way, like Twiffidy I am also an old school Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan, I can say my favorite character was Spike, and my favorite villain was probably Warren. I am also a Gilmore Girls lover of all things Luke and Lorelai (if you don’t understand that reference– kindly go watch the entire series. Chop, chop, I’m waiting!). So, yes– I too know Strong mostly from the acting-side of his career, but he’s been in the business for such a long time, and has clearly worked with some of the best writers, and written material in Hollywood for decades. Basically, the guy’s been in a masterclass for 20 years, and it’s no wonder that out of the gate he was nominated for awards for his written work (Recount was nominated in 2008 for an Emmy for writing as well), especially when geniuses like Joss Whedon and Matthew Weiner (Mad Men), are his basis for writing. Seriously, after Joss and Weiner there’s only one direction you can go– and that’s up super far, or well– you die.

About Game Change though, I know this is going to sound far-fetched to some of you, but it has remarkably similar traits to Mockingjay.Yep, Sarah Palin is a lot like Katniss Everdeen. Bear with me, okay! We’ve got a small-town girl, who would basically do anything for her family, she’s fiercely connected to her hometown, she hunts, she’s idealistic, and then she’s plucked from obscurity by the fancy outsiders to basically get the people of her country to rally behind a specific cause. Sounds like Katniss to me, but I just described Sarah Palin, hell there’s even a makeover scene in Game Change. I must concede though, the difference between Palin and Katniss is this, Palin’s best when she’s scripted to the nth degree, Katniss is as stiff as my cat who’s been dead for ten years. However, when Palin goes rogue, i.e. off book, she scares the shit out of people, except The Crazies, alienates everyone who brought her into the fold to begin with, and pretty much destroys her own chances to ever be taken seriously again. Katniss Everdeen though, when she goes rogue, like for example during the sequence in District 8 in Mockingjay, she comes into her self, gains confidence in herself, the cause she’s fighting for, and rallies a nation for the good.

Game Change may be about the 2008 McCain/Palin campaign for President and Vice President of the United States of America, but the bare bones of the story speaks for its self– politics, wars on different playing fields, ignorance, a woman becoming something new and different than what she was before– for better or for worse, and the men and women who helped her get there. Strong’s got it down, and if this were something I could vote on– I’d vote for him. Also, well– Woody Harrelson has spoken and acted his words before, and– think about it– Julianne Moore could quite possibly be considered a good candidate for President Coin.

Off to watch Recount!

Them There Eyes



  1. “However, when Palin goes rogue, i.e. off book, she scares the shit out of people, except The Crazies, alienates everyone who brought her into the fold to begin with, and pretty much destroys her own chances to ever be taken seriously again”.

    Hmm…seems this COULD be a good summary of what happens at the end of MJ, though. Katniss turning her bow and arrow not on Snow as per the script, but on Coin, results in her eventually being dismissed as a shell-shocked lunatic and exiled back to the hinterlands of D12, pretty much destroying her own chances to ever be taken seriously again.

    I guess the other question would be, how much commercial pressure will there be to make Katniss more of a traditional heroine who you just HAVE to root for, versus presenting her as a more nuanced, flawed individual? (I haven’t watched “Game Change” but it seems people’s opinions about whether it was fair to Palin or not, mostly depended on their politics; however, no one thought it presented her as a traditional heroine.)

    See, one criticism I have heard about THG is that it left out or revised Katniss’s less admirable actions, such as throwing out the cookies Mr. Mellark gave her, or how she replies to Peeta’s monologue about wanting to die as himself, with the antagonistic “Who cares?” in the books, which is much softened in the movie, to the introspective “I just can’t afford to think like that”. And Katniss’s actions in MJ are even more questionable at times than THG. Since movie scripts are subject to cuts and re-writes pretty much to the end of production, I can see Strong writing a good script, but that’s not the final word by any means.

    Also, it seems that Strong really doesn’t have much background with romance, and assuming he was influenced by Joss Whedon, he may know how to write tragic romances, but not ones that actually end happily, or result in marriage and kids like Katniss and Peeta. That’s one aspect of MJ that I hope doesn’t fall by the wayside.

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