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OTRC: Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in 'Game Change': Aides speak out

Julianne Moore appears in a still from the 2012 film, 'Game Change.' / Sarah Palin appears in an undated photo posted on her Facebook page on September 4, 2009. (HBO / facebook.com/sarahpalin)

Sarah Palin's former aides have defended her ahead of the release of the HBO television film "Game Change," which stars Julianne Moore as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

Palin, the former governor of Alaska, has often been parodied in the media, most notably by Tina Fey on "Saturday Night Live." "Game Change" depicts her experiences campaigning as the running mate of John McCain, played by Ed Harris, ahead of the 2008 election and debuts on March 10. It is based largely on a book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

The aides made their comments in a Wednesday conference call facilitated by Tim Crawford, the treasurer of the political action committee SarahPAC. None have seen the film, whose trailer was released in December.

Jason Recher, who handled vice presidential road operations for Palin's campaign with presidential hopeful John McCain, said Palin is "one of the most engaged public servants I'd ever observed," while her former lawyer, Tom Van Flein, said she was diligent, sharp and enthusiastic about the campaign, according to the Associated Press.

In the "Game Change" trailer, one scene depicts what appears to be a 2008 interview Palin gave ABC newsman Charlie Gibson. He had asked her: "What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?"

"They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska," she replied.

In "Game Change," after Moore utters part of the line, Woody Harrelson's character, campaign strategist Steve Schmidt, is seen saying: "Oh my God, what have we done?"

Other scenes show Moore mumbling "I miss my baby," referring to Palin's son Trig, and lying on the floor of a living room while wearing a bathrobe and appearing depressed. She complains on the phone about being treated like a "puppet," while Harrelson's character says she is "on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown."

The Associated Press quoted a former spokesperson for Palin, Meg Stapleton, as saying in the conference call that people associated with the movie and the book never contacted her, adding: "They don't want to hear anything good. We all know Palin sells and the dramatization of Palin sells even more. This is sick."

"They mock Gov. Palin, you mock Gov. Palin, as weak and unable to cope and press forward," the news wire quoted her as telling reporters. "And the movie and the trailer ... say that. And yet look with your own eyes at what she and her family have endured and inspired over the last few years. Any lesser man would have hanged himself by now. So who's weak?"

"Game Change" co-executive producer and writer Danny Strong said Palin is portrayed "in a balanced light" in the film and that he and director Jay Roach also carried out 25 interviews with members of the 2008 campaign for research purposes and also used Palin's book "Going Rogue" and other publications as sources.

Crawford said Palin is on the record as considering the movie a false narrative, the Associated Press said. She has not commented publicly about it.

Roach has said he had tried to obtain an interview with Palin for purposes of research but was denied, the Associated Press said. Strong said she and her husband, Todd, declined an offer to have the movie screened just for them ahead of time.

"Game Change" also stars Miley Cyrus' ex-boyfriend Justin Gaston as Levi Johnston, the ex-boyfriend of Palin's daughter Bristol and the father of their child, Tripp. Melissa Farman, who appeared in three episodes of "Lost," will portray Bristol Palin.

Jay Roach has also directed "Meet the Parents" and the HBO film "Recount," which was about the 2000 election and the Florida recount.

After losing the 2008 election, Palin went on to become a reality star. She and her family appeared on "Sarah Palin's Alaska," which premiered in 2010 on TLC. The show followed their adventures in Wasilla, Alaska, showcasing their hunting trips, Eskimo bingo games, interactions with bears and also featured a crossover camping trip with Kate Gosselin and her eight children from the network's other series, "Kate Plus 8."

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