Bet Mitt Romney wishes he could cut off funding to National Geographic — and eliminate every other channel where Red State viewers might accidentally learn something.   6 weeks before Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty premieres, and — hey! — coincidentally two days before the presidential election, the National Geographic Channel plans to televise a feature film about the killing of Osama bin Laden. (NYT)  The film,  Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden, will stream on Netflix starting on Nov. 5.

“Seal Team Six” is a re-creation of the May 2011 killing of the terrorism mastermind, which was arguably the crowning national security achievement of President Obama’s term in office. Scheduling the premiere shortly before the election may turn the film into a political object, though a National Geographic Channel executive said Thursday night that politics was not a factor in the timing.

Instead, said Howard T. Owens, the channel’s president, said Nov. 4 was selected “to take advantage of our fall schedule” of shows, which will have their premieres in the days and weeks after “Seal Team Six.”

“Other than being commercially opportunistic, we weren’t considering the election,” Mr. Owens said.

The same questions were asked last year when a competing bin Laden film with a much bigger budget, “Zero Dark Thirty,” was tentatively scheduled for release in theaters shortly before Election Day, Nov. 6. Amid a partisan debate about whether the film would help Mr. Obama’s chances at the polls, Sony Pictures, the distributor, moved the premiere date to Dec. 19.

The obligatory “Obama-pals-around-with-Hollywood!” whine:

“Zero Dark Thirty” also came under scrutiny because the filmmakers, Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow, were given special briefings by the CIA. Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, has accused the Obama administration of “unprecedented” and “potentially dangerous” collaboration with the filmmakers, but the administration has said Mr. Boal and Ms. Bigelow were provided with the same information as other reporters, producers and movie-makers.

“Seal Team Six” has not been subject to the same accusations. National Geographic said Thursday that the film mostly sticks to the facts about the raid, though “some aspects of the characterizations have been dramatized for creative reasons.” It said the sequences in the film were “vetted by a team of experts including a recently retired Navy Seal, a top CIA operative and one of the most renowned bin Laden historians.”

The film was titled “Code Name Geronimo” when it was produced this year. Harvey Weinstein’s company snapped up distribution rights to the film during the Cannes Film Festival in May. He contemplated a theatrical release in the United States, but instead came to a distribution deal with National Geographic last month.

The film’s total budget is not known, but it’s believed to be a fraction of the $30 million spent on “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Though it is making its debut on television and not in theaters, “it feels like a feature,” Mr. Owens said, calling it “incredibly well-made” and citing a two-minute trailer that was posted online this week. The trailer incorporates some news video of Mr. Obama and other officials alongside fictional sequences set at the CIA headquarters and in Pakistan.

Hear the distant rumble of thunder-stealing?

…Mr. Weinstein said in a statement, “I think many of us, myself included, have our own ideas of how everything unfolded that night. This portrayal of the events that took place that night is moving to say the very least. I anticipate audiences will be as captivated as I was from the beginning to the end, and I’m extremely proud as an American citizen to play a role in making sure this stunning portrayal of very recent American history is available in as many homes as possible.”

For the National Geographic Channel, majority-owned by News Corporation, the film is a marketing opportunity — a reason for people who would otherwise never look for the channel on their cable lineup to look it up. Buying the TV rights to the film also makes a statement about the channel’s foray into scripted programming. Early next year it will show a film about the killing of Abraham Lincoln.

When asked if he thought the timing of the election would benefit the film, Mr. Owens said, “I think we will benefit by being first to the market,” by beating “Zero Dark Thirty.”



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  • Unlikely hood

    You buried the lead: nat geo is “owned by the news corporation.” Fox. Murdoch. !!!

    That suggests one of three possibilities:

    1) they move the date later,

    2) they keep the date, Romney wins, and Fox shares shoot up in value on their new fair and balanced-ness

    3) they keep the date, Obama wins, and it’s supreme court-obamacare all over again with right wingers calling each other traitor (and selling t shirts!)

  • 4) Murdoch knows Romney is moot and nobody who’s decided to vote for Obama by November 4th is going to suddenly go sour and jilt him on November 6th. So Murdoch decides to cash in the best way he can. (Murdoch enjoys money. Look what he lets The Simpsons get away with).

  • unlikely hood

    The Kerry team still blames the OBL video of two-days-before-2004-election for their man’s loss. I guess it had nothing to do with the bad candidate.

  • Determined

    Its ironic that Sasha, amongst many of the Left, celebrates the killing of Bin Laden without mentioning that our current President continued the policies of the previous presidential administration to accomplish the goal.

    I have to take issue with that snarky comment related to defunding certain networks. My question is why is the Left so afraid of competition on the free market? Let PBS compete with other networks which don’t receive taxpayer funded subsidies. And what gets completly ignored is if your parenting skills are so poor you rely on television shows, you have much bigger problems to worry about then the funding of PBS.

  • Now Fu

    f you blue state bitch i can learn without federal money asshole

  • Mattoc

    What the fuck is going on with this thread?

    Anyhoo, if the movies good, ZDT – then it shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Tony

    Can we get the facts straight for once? Romney does not want to close down PBS or Planned Parenthood; he wants to cut off FEDERAL FUNDS to them. Let the Hollywood libs like ScarJo, Babs, Clooney, Natalie Portman pick up the slack by writing checks.

  • ^
    Facts? Here’s a fact. PBS and NPR cost each individual American taxpayer $1.35 per year. Tiny price to pay for all the benefit we get back.

    Here’s another fact. One F-22 fighter jet costs $385 million. We have 187 of them. They’re useless. They were designed for big dramatic dogfights with Soviet jet fighters. F-22’s can’t fly in the rain. Even on a sunny day, after every 2 hours of flight time they stop working and have to be repaired.

    187 useless fighter jets at $385 million each. That’s enough to keep PBS on the air for the next 150 years.

    Here’s another pathetic fact. 7% of Americans think PBS eats up half the US budget every year.

    So yeah, Tony. Let’s have LESS educational stuff on the teevee. Because Americans are getting too smart!

  • Mel

    What a twat. You understand why PBS/NPR aren’t commercial and operate non-profit don’t you? I guess not. Idiot.

    They are the only broadcasters we have left with no agenda other than to serve the American people.

  • Now Fu

    Clooney and Pitt And spielberg and katzenberg movie studios and tv companies can fund PBS like cable companies do cspan. No fed money in cspan

  • Maybe some of us want $2 of our tax money to go something uplifting. Instead of using all the taxes so war-mongers can blow the arms and legs off Iraqi children. (and Iranian kids next, if Romney is elected.)

    You spend your time trying to make sure Romney gets his way. Meanwhile I’m doing whatever I can to make sure he doesn’t.

    We’ll soon see how many other Americans feel the way I do.

  • f you blue state bitch i can learn without federal money asshole

    I can see that. Your flawless English proves what you’ve learned.

  • Tony

    Everything that the federal government touches ends up with bloat and waste. At least defense is a responsibility spelled out in the constitution. We don’t need to invent a “penumbra” to justify it.

    There are so many niche channels now. PBS doesn’t offer much that adults can’t find elsewhere. When I was a child, I NEVER watched “Sesame Street.” I learned in classrooms. I did something right, because my degrees come from obscure little places like STANFORD.

    Liberals love PBS/NPR, because the news and opinion shows skew left. It’s one thing for Fox and MSNBC to have biases, but it’s quite another when taxpayer money is involved. Yes, the amount of money is small in the face of a $16 trillion debt — thanks for 1/3 of it, Mr. Prez! — so again, the Hollywood libs should have no problem picking up the slack.

  • I learned in classrooms. I did something right, because my degrees come from obscure little places like STANFORD.

    Then you had better opportunities than most. How about you quit crying about your $1.35/year spent to help kids less fortunate than you.

  • There are so many niche channels now.

    Christ. Yes, 300 niche channels — for families that can afford cable. I guess you think families below the poverty line have $100-150 bucks a month to blow so they can watch Ancient Aliens on the mostly silly ‘History’ Channel.

    hey, I like Ancient Aliens. But educational, it’s not. The History Channel is junk “history.” Discovery Channel is junk science; it has nothing that compare with Nova. (Evil Liberal Nova! Cover your eyes, little republican kids! It’s Satan’s science!)

    Free broadcast TV is what we’re talking about. For kids and adults in rural areas too. Not just disadvantaged inner city kids. It’s for disadvantaged kids whose parents can’t afford to send their kids to pre-K daycare, red state and blue state alike.

    Liberals love PBS/NPR, because the news and opinion shows skew left.

    Translation: Liberals love PBS/NPR, because the news and opinion shows skew smart.

    Why aren’t there any smart conservative channels? Because the deep-pocket Kochs and Adelsons don’t want kids to be educated. The dumber people are, the easier they swallow lies. That’s how 7% of Americans think PBS drains half the federal budget.

  • Wait a minute. PBS costs me $1.35 every year? That means I have to forego a pack of Trident just so some little booger brat can learn something??? I don’t even have kids so what good does it do me? Besides, Sesame Street teaches children to participate vocally in games. Screw that. If I hear a kid say word one I lose my shit. I say we take Big Bird to a nice field and use our dollar thirty five to blow him up into a feather pillow. HOO AH.

  • Tony

    I need to get it through my head that film discussions here come with more politics than elsewhere. I’ll try to bite my tongue after setting the record straight.
    1.) Neither my father nor my mother graduated from high school. My childhood opportunities came from living in a free society. If you do your homework, spend time on term papers and study for exams, the best places will open their doors to you.
    2.) Reading books is FAR more educational than watching television (including PBS). People like Mark Twain and Marie Curie must have watched tons of quality telev……. no.
    3.) Both major parties include many “smart” people and many not-so-“smart” people. The difference is that a liberal will deem a person who is, say, pro-life, as stupid. You’re a pro-life nuclear physicist? Stupid. You’re a pro-life orthopedic surgeon? Stupid.

  • Five

    I pay for PBS twice with taxes and donations

  • You have two reasons to be proud.

  • Ari

    I don’t care about Iraq war movies or who is President or who is going to be President. President Obama said he would end this unnecessary war where soldiers continue to risk their lives and innocent people are dying and billions of dollars being flushed down the drain 4 years ago and yet somehow he’s stopped that promise and instead celebrating the “improvement” in Afghanistan. I don’t care who is President, just end this war, and it’s a shame it’s been totally ignored now that Obama is practically seen as flawless by liberals. Forgive me, I’m not American nor do I like politics, but this issue cannot be ignored any longer.

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