|Written by||Danny Strong|
|Directed by||Jay Roach|
|Music by||Dave Grusin|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||116 minutes|
Recount is a 2008 political drama television film about Florida's vote recount during the 2000 United States presidential election. Written by Danny Strong and directed by Jay Roach, the television film stars Kevin Spacey, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Laura Dern, John Hurt, Denis Leary, Bruce McGill, and Tom Wilkinson. It premiered on HBO on May 25, 2008. The television film was nominated for eleven Primetime Emmy Awards, winning three for Outstanding Made for Television Movie, Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special (for Roach), and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie (for Baumgarten). It was also nominated for five Golden Globe Awards and winning Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (for Dern).
Recount chronicles the 2000 U.S. presidential election Bush v. Gore case between Governor of Texas George W. Bush and U.S. Vice President Al Gore. It begins with the election on November 7 and ends with the Supreme Court ruling, which stopped the Florida election recount on December 12.
Key points depicted include: Gore's retraction of his personal telephone concession to Bush in the early hours of November 8; the decision by the Gore campaign to sue for hand recounts in Democratic strongholds where voting irregularities were alleged, especially in light of the statistical dead heat revealed by the reported machine recount; Republican pressure on Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris in light of her legally mandated responsibilities; the attention focused on the hand recounts by media, parties, and the public; the two major announcements by Florida Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters extending the deadline for returns in the initial recount (November 21, 2000) and ordering a statewide recount of votes (December 8, 2000), and later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court; and finally the adversarial postures of the Supreme Courts of Florida and the United States, as well as the dissenting opinions among the higher court's justices.
- Kevin Spacey as Ron Klain
- John Hurt as Warren Christopher
- Laura Dern as Katherine Harris
- Tom Wilkinson as James Baker
- Denis Leary as Michael Whouley
- Ed Begley, Jr. as David Boies
- Bob Balaban as Ben Ginsberg
- Bruce McGill as Mac Stipanovich
- Paul Jeans as Ted Olson
- Bruce Altman as Mitchell Berger
- Alex Staggs as Craig Waters
- Doug Williford as Mark Fabiani
- Gary Basaraba as Clay Roberts
- Stefen Laurantz as Joe Allbaugh
- Mitch Pileggi as Bill Daley
- Jayne Atkinson as Theresa LePore
- Marcia Jean Kurtz as Carol Roberts
- Mary Bonner Baker as Kerey Carpenter
- Bob Kranz as Bob Butterworth
- Raymond Forchion as Jeff Robinson
- Steve DuMouchel as John Hardin Young
- Marc Macaulay as Robert Zoellick
- Antoni Corone as Tom Feeney
- Matt Miller as Jeb Bush
- Terry Loughlin as William Rehnquist
- Judy Clayton as Sandra Day O'Connor
- William Schallert as John Paul Stevens
- Bruce Gray as Anthony Kennedy
- Michael Bryan French as David Souter
- Howard Elfman as Stephen Breyer
- Jack Shearer as Antonin Scalia
- Benjamin Clayton as Clarence Thomas
- Bradford DeVine as Charles T. Wells
- Candice Critchfield as Judge Myriam Lehr
- Annie Cerillo as Barbara Pariente
- Brewier Welch as Harry Lee Anstead
- Derek Cecil as Jeremy Bash
- Robert Small as George J. Terwilliger III
- Patricia Getty as Margaret D. Tutwiler
- Christopher Schmidt as John E. Sweeney
- Olgia Campbell as Donna Brazile
- James Carrey as Chris Lehane
- Brent Mendenhall as George W. Bush
- Grady Couch as Al Gore
- David Lodge as Joe Lieberman
- Carole Wood as Tipper Gore
- Mark Lamoureux as Reporter
- Tom Hillmann as Brad Blakeman
- Adam LeFevre as Mark Herron
In April 2007, it was announced that Sydney Pollack would direct the film. By August, weeks away from the start of principal photography, Pollack withdrew from the project due to a then-undisclosed illness, and was replaced by Jay Roach. Pollack died of cancer on May 26, 2008, one day after Recount premiered on HBO.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 78%, based on 18 reviews, and an average rating of 6.4/10. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Mark Moorman of Het Parool, gave the film a rating of four stars on a scale of five, calling Recount an "amazing and funny reconstruction".
Response to fictionalization
Some critics have made charges of bias against the film. Entertainment Weekly wrote, "Recount may not be downright blue, but it's not as purply as it wants to appear. Despite its equal time approach, Recount is an underdog story, and thus a Democrat story." Film critic Roger Ebert disputed claims of bias in his review of the film, stating, "You might assume the movie is pro-Gore and anti-Bush, but you would not be quite right."
In an interview with CNN's Reliable Sources, director Jay Roach responded that the film, "wasn't 100 percent accurate, but it was very true to what went on. ... That's what dramatizations do: stitch together the big ideas with, sometimes, constructs that have to stand for a larger truth." Roach cited All the President's Men as an example. Jake Tapper, an ABC newscaster who was a consultant for the film also stated in response that the film is "a fictional version of what happened" and "tilts to the left because it's generally told from the point of view of the Democrats." The Washington Post further stated that Tapper noted that "while some scenes and language are manufactured, 'a lot of dialogue is not invented, a lot of dialogue is taken from my book, other books and real life.' "
Florida Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters agreed that the script departed from the actual statements he made on live television from the courthouse steps in the fall of 2000. "But the words spoken by the actor who played me [Alex Staggs]," Waters said, "are accurate paraphrasis of the things I actually said or of the documents released by the court at the time."
... has not seen the film, but he read transcripts of scenes featuring his character, who is portrayed as a high-minded but naive statesman. In one scene, Christopher, played by John Hurt, suggests to former Secretary of State James Baker, who was spearheading Bush's Florida legal team, that they try to resolve the recount through 'diplomacy and compromise.' 'That's absurd,' Christopher says. 'Both Baker and I knew this would be a fight to the end that only one side could win.'
Democratic strategist Michael Whouley has objected to the amount of swearing he does in the film, and was also uncomfortable with a scene involving a broken chair.
In contrast, Bush legal advisers James Baker and Benjamin Ginsberg have largely given the film good reviews; Baker even hosted his own screening of it, though he does refer to the film as a "Hollywood rendition" of what happened.
Awards and nominations
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- "Ill Pollack steps down from film". BBC News. BBC. August 7, 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
- "US director Sydney Pollack dies". BBC News. BBC. May 27, 2008. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
- Fleming, Michael (September 24, 2007). "Spacey to star in HBO's 'Recount'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
- "Recount (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
- "Recount Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
- Moorman, Mark (February 19, 2009). "Siamese punk and a recount". Het Parool. p. A&M 23.
- Flynn, Gillian (May 16, 2008). "Recount". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved September 8, 2011.
- Ebert, Roger (May 25, 2008). "Recount". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
- Kurtz, Kyle (May 23, 2008). "Truth and Chads Hang In the Balance Of 'Recount'". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 20, 2018.
- Gold, Matea (May 22, 2008). "HBO's 'Recount' revisits hanging chad debacle". San Jose Mercury News. Digital First Media. Retrieved May 26, 2008.
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