Martin Scorsese film on Clintons derailed by... Bill Clinton?

Here’s something you don’t see every day. Shortly after the 2012 election, both Hollywood and Washington got their collective undergarments in a bunch when it was announced that HBO and Martin Scorsese would be producing a movie on the Clintons. This was a no brainer for HBO, since both Bill and Hillary come with a huge, built-in fan base which would no doubt swell their ratings well beyond anything such a biopic would generally merit. In Washington, Democrats were slathering at the thought of all the sweet PR goodness which would be coming Hillary’s way gratis from the liberal friendly Scorsese as she mounted her presidential campaign. The Republicans were, of course, crying foul.

But now it seems that the project is in danger of winding up sunk deeper than the Titanic, and the fly in the ointment is none other than the Big Dog himself.

Mr. Scorsese’s partly finished documentary about Mr. Clinton — which once seemed likely to be released as Hillary Rodham Clinton was navigating a presidential run — has stalled over disagreements about control, people briefed on the project said.

Though parts of the film were shot over the last two years as Mr. Clinton made a philanthropic visit to Africa and elsewhere, the project is now indefinitely shelved, partly because Mr. Clinton insisted on more control over the interview questions and final version than Mr. Scorsese was willing to give, those people said.

How Mr. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, who briefly worked as a special correspondent at NBC News, might figure in the film or on the production team was also an open question.

For his part, Clinton’s office is calling the characterization of the dispute “inaccurate” without going into it further. HBO says that it’s not happening soon, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen. (There’s a ringing endorsement for you.)

This will seem to be a rather remarkable turn of events if you have any experience with the film industry. Once a project reaches the point of getting the green light and filming begins, it’s a go. And that’s particularly true when you have a name with the firepower of Scorsese attached to it. Any agreements about access and use of material would be worked out in advance, and the “permission” of the subject of the work has very little to do with it after that. True, life will be easier if you have their full cooperation, but even if they are fighting you tooth and claw you can still make the film. Neither Bill nor Hillary should have the ability to shut something like this down.

So what happened? It’s still just speculation at this point, but it’s not a stretch to say that there is a seriously incestuous relationship between Hollywood and the Democrat party. They are frequently in bed together, both literally and figuratively. This means that Hollywood gets a lot of say as to what goes on in the DNC by virtue of all the money they kick in, but at the same time they don’t want to tick off the top Democrats either. (You must keep up appearances for the public, and squabbling such as this is unseemly.) If the Clintons pushed back hard enough, it’s not unimaginable that HBO and/or Scorsese would would back down.

This is the West Coast version of crony capitalism. It may not be pretty, but if you’re a conservative it’s probably more popcorn-worthy than 90% of the movies they’re cranking out these days.

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