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Hillary Clinton miniseries scrapped by NBC after CNN kills its documentary: Lost opportunity

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton greets

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton greets attendees at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. (Sept. 24, 2013) Credit: AP

As expected NBC has dropped plans for a miniseries on Hillary Clinton — to have starred Diane Lane — even though the surprise element on this cancellation is just about nil. The Republican National Committee had protested the project, promising to boycott NBC as a venue for the debate cycle during the next presidential election. And the Clinton camp was unhappy too, particularly with an estimated arrival date just before the 2016 election begins in earnest.

So, I think I'll just go ahead and call this little misadventure what it is: Another opportunity squandered by NBC to get viewers really engaged and interested in something to go out on its air besides "The Voice."

There's no evidence this would have been a "bad" film or a hatchet job or a love letter — and possibly even to the contrary: It may have been a good and balanced one with Courtney Hunt at the helm. She wrote "Frozen River," for which she received an Oscar nod (see clip below).

While there's no evidence this would have been either pro or anti-Clinton, clearly imaginations had rushed in to fill the void of non-information.

Diane Lane: Let's take her as an example. The anti-Clintonites took that piece of casting as evidence that the film would have glamorized Clinton, but that does a disservice to Lane, who's an excellent actress, and who would have probably humanized her as much as Julianne Moore humanized Sarah Palin. Which is maybe what the Clinton camp was worried about too.

Meanwhile, an odd little piece of historic coincidence at this juncture: Lane recently split from Josh Brolin (who of course has gone the biopic route too, in "W") — son of James, who exactly 10 years ago starred in that ill-fated miniseries on Ronald Reagan which CBS ultimately scrapped. (Judy Davis was cast as Nancy.) It was shunted over to Showtime — which in 2003 was the equivalent of sending the thing to Siberia.

Conservatives had some reason to howl over this film — it including a line of dialogue that Reagan had evidently never said — that AIDS victims "live in sin and shall die in sin .?.?.' -- and the damage was done. CBS punted (and the line was also excised, as well it should have been, from the Showtime version.) .

Nothing like that here, though.

No, this is all very simple: NBC chickened out, and a potentially interesting film is toast. Too bad.

CNN also backed away from its Clinton documentary — but of course HBO has not backed away from its Martin Scorsese-produced film on Bill Clinton. That one is authorized, which suggests that perhaps the only way a film on Hillary will be produced before the 2016 election is to have her imprimatur as well.

Here's the clip on Hunt, who would have written and directed the NBC biopic that, per the network, would have "recount [ed] Clinton’s life as a wife, mother, politician and cabinet member from 1998 to the present. The script will begin with Clinton living in the White House as her husband is serving the second of his two terms as president. In the years following, she would eventually become a United States senator, run for president and, ultimately, serve the country as secretary of state."

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