Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Feb 27, 2009 in Kick-Back Friday

Kick-Back Friday: #55

Kick-Back Friday: #55


HBO’s Recount (2008): A left-leaning dramatization of the 2000 recount of Florida votes, which determined the outcome of the US Presidential race by a hair’s breadth.

A very tight script of a very complicated story was ostensibly written by 34-year-old actor Danny Strong (“The Gilmore Girls,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), who I suspect got a lot of rewrite help from the late Sydney Pollack (executive producer) and others. Florida’s infamous Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, is handled mostly with care by Laura Derna difficult job, given that Harris is such a real-life cartoon.

Also Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary have a nice exchange about chads.

bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.


  1. You suspect wrong on the screenwriting process. I’m friends with an assistant at Spring Creek (the production company that produced it), and I was told Danny Strong wrote every word. She told me the producers were ‘stunned’ at what a talented writer the diminutive actor turned out to be.
    You suspect right on ‘left leaning’. I would’ve preferred a more balanced approach, but I still dug it. Laura Dern was AMAZING.

  2. I’m not sure that I find your production-assistant source (re screenwriting) particularly compelling. Even Strong, in the DVD commentary, admits to input from Pollack. Also it’s extremely unusual, if not unrealistic, for a script to make it to the screen these days without a ton of rewrites from uncredited sources. My suspicions about Strong remain. But that’s just my (usually astute) opinion.
    I’m actually ambivalent about Dern’s performance. As Harris, she’s very good in more scenes than not.

  3. Yes, I’m sure your usually astute opinion is probably much more accurate than a person who worked in the actual office where the script was developed.
    I called her again to get more dirt, and she said that the producers did give notes on the script, which according to her, is the process that EVERY script in Hollywood goes through before it gets made (she compared it to a book editor), but that Strong was the only person who did the writing. She said you’re right about lots of uncredited rewrites on studio pictures, but that it’s uncommon for HBO to do this as they are a more writer friendly company than most and have less money to throw into uncredited writers like the studios do as their movies have much smaller budgets. Her final point on Strong’s solo effort was that he won the Writers Guild Award for Recount, and this doesn’t happen when there’s multiple writers because everyone in town knows if the credited writer was re-written.

  4. Ok, if you’re going to be totally snide, get your own blog.
    And give me a break on your source: You’re a friend of a production assistant who worked in the same production company? That’s everyone in southern California.
    And…a rebuttal to your point on the WGA award: Good Will Hunting won in 1997, and an excellent source (a long-time Academy-member screenwriter, not a production assistant) informs me that script went through multiple uncredited writers.
    My point is, I just don’t believe that Danny Strong pulled off the script as a solo effort–HBO project or not. The script is way too tight, polished, etc., to believe that Strong (who’s not very articulate in interviews, IMO) pulled it off without a lot of help. And knowledge of the general screenwriting process in Hollywood backs up that contention. That’s MY OPINION, on MY BLOG.

  5. I thought Strong sounded extremely intelligent on the DVD commentary and he was talking for a couple of hours, but I haven’t read or seen any of his interviews.
    I also think it’s a bit trite to be so dismissive of my source when it’s someone who works in the office where the script was developed. I’m getting info straight from a CE’s assistant in a company with maybe 6 employees total. They all know what’s going on. If you don’t want to believe I know someone at Spring Creek, that’s fine, but an assistant in a small company is going to know what’s happening. Another nugget she gave me was that Sydney Pollack wasn’t involved in the majority of the development. He came on late in the process, although she said he was ‘awesome’ once he signed on. Len Amato (another one of the producers) gets the credit for the producing/development of the script.
    Good point on Good Will Hunting, I’ll be sure to smack her down with it as she is a bit cocky.
    And my snideness is only to match yours. As it is your blog, you set the tone.

  6. Aiyiyi.
    Okay, first realize that I’ll always have the last word at this particular venue.
    Second, anybody who says that Ed Begley, Jr, and David Boies are “literally” the same person, as Danny Strong said in the DVD commentary, isn’t thinking particularly carefully about his words (or just generally)–like a good, smart writer would. And a good, smart writer (or writers) wrote that script.
    Is it possible that Danny Strong wrote Recount all by hisself? Yes, it’s possible.
    It is likely? No…not in my opinion.

  7. Oh, come on, Bmartin, that last one was really lame. Seriously, re-read it. Not your finest hour.
    Okay, I promise you this is my last post as my friend at Spring Creek can’t believe I’ve gotten into this with you. So here is my final point – Recount was voted the #1 script on the Hollywood Blacklist for 2007. This is a list made up of votes from producers, development executives and agents listing their favorite scripts of the year. It’s not production drafts that get judged, but the writers final draft because the whole point of the Black List is to list the hottest writers in town. I guess it’s a big deal to be in the top five, let alone number one. He was also named one of the “Top Ten Writers to Watch” by Variety magazine for 2007.
    So…the entire Hollywood community and Variety magazine (Hollywood’s paper of note) have recognized him as major new writer, and yet you refuse to acknowledge that he wrote a script that the entire town has honored him for writing. It’s okay to admit your wrong.
    I would like to finish by saying that I can’t believe I wrote all these posts on your website. I could care less about Danny Strong (whom I’ve never met), and I only responded because I knew for a fact from someone who was involved in the project that there were never multiple writers on Recount and so I felt compelled to correct you on the comments. The fact that you are so obstinate in your opinion despite whatever facts are laid in front you (and I think I’ve made it clear that I know a bit more about the development process of Recount than you) and are going out of your way to insult a writer you probably know nothing about, tells me that you place your own certitude over facts and reason. Or that you’re a Republican.

  8. You again?