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Emmy viewing & hanging chads alert: HBO's controversial 'Recount' debuts Sunday

May 23, 2008 |  6:39 pm

When "Recount" premieres on HBO Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT, it continues the pay channel's tradition of glossy docudramas starring Oscar winners. Earlier this season, Susan Sarandon was in "Bernard and Doris" and last year it was Anna Paquin in "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." Now double Oscar winner Kevin Spacey heads up the cast of this look at the 2000 U.S. presidential election results in Florida.


Along with Spacey, who produced as well, "Recount" features double Oscar nominees Tom Wilkinson and John Hurt as James Baker and Warren Christopher. And Oscar and Emmy nominee Laura Dern is almost unrecognizable as the woman at the center of the political storm –- Florida secretary of state Katherine Harris. Emmy nominees Denis Leary and Ed Begley Jr. round out the cast. Helming was handled by Jay Roach, best known for the "Austin Powers" series and "Meet the Parents/Fockers," from a script by actor turned writer Danny Strong ("Gilmore Girls").

The resulting film certainly met with critical approval. Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times thinks it "may be the best political movie since 'All the President's Men.' With an outstanding cast and finely tuned script, 'Recount' not only transcends all its potential problems, it also captures both the grim party politics, the strange collision of personalities and the obsessive heroics of a moment that was, for better or worse, unlike any other."

And Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times says "this astute and deliciously engrossing film retells the tale of Florida in all its bizarre and inglorious moments, from haggling over the 'hanging chad' and 'butterfly ballots' to the ruckus between the Florida secretary of state, Katherine Harris, and the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board. 'Recount' is not satire; it’s a mordantly serious look at a moment when character, political influence and luck fatefully collided."


HBO has dominated the made for TV movie category at the Emmy Awards for the last 15 years, winning 13 times, including the last four years in a row. The paycaster has aired 44 of the 75 movies nominated since 1993. And with "Recount" it looks likely to tally up enough votes to at least be in contention once again this year.