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Hillary's life to come alive in new TV show


BROADWAY: Rachel Weisz has been starring alongside husband Daniel Craig in ‘Betrayal’. Pic: National Portrait Gallery London

BROADWAY: Rachel Weisz has been starring alongside husband Daniel Craig in ‘Betrayal’. Pic: National Portrait Gallery London

BROADWAY: Rachel Weisz has been starring alongside husband Daniel Craig in ‘Betrayal’. Pic: National Portrait Gallery London

More drama on the Hillary front last week as CBS gave the go-ahead to a pilot for a new TV series Madam Secretary, a familiar-sounding saga that spins around a "maverick" secretary of state as she attempts to juggle the pressures of driving international diplomacy while navigating relationships with some of Washington's tricky personalities and keeping the lid on a "complicated" family life.

The fact that Tea Leoni, in her first major outing since divorcing admitted sex-addict husband David Duchovny, is set to star as the title character has added an extra layer of sizzle to the production which will be helmed by heavyweights including scriptwriter Barbara Hall (Homeland) and Oscar winner Morgan Freeman's company, Revelations Entertainment.

While the early buzz about Leoni's casting is positive ("a solid faux Hillary", and even suggestions that this could be "her Good Wife") nobody knows whether producers are planning a sympathetic West Wing-style drama or an edgier, Machiavellian take aka House of Cards.

The Republicans, possibly still recovering from the brouhaha they created to force NBC to scratch a Hillary miniseries starring Diane Lane and get CNN to put the kibosh on its planned Hillary biopic, sound wearily resigned to the fact that the former first lady is destined to get more attention than whoever they put up against her if she does actually decide to run.

"Hollywood seems to be getting very nervous about a potential Hillary run, because they are doing everything under the sun to prop up her image," RNC communications director Sean Spicer sniffed in reference to the TV show. "What's next?" he asked. "'Dancing With Hillary'?"

No comment came from Hillaryland where spokesman Philippe Reines probably had his hands full disseminating the data, delivered via a fresh Washington Post-ABC News poll, that his boss now holds a commanding six to one lead over other Democrats heading into the 2016 presidential campaign, while the Republican field grows more deeply divided with no clear front-runner.

Clinton trounces her potential primary rivals with 73 per cent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents across ideological, gender, ethnic and class lines which, according to the Post, reinforces a narrative of inevitability around her nomination if she runs. The newspaper also reports that Hillary's lead is the largest recorded in an early primary match-up in 30 years of polling.

Michelle loves her DC drama


CBS might want to think about hiring Michelle Obama as a consultant on Madam Secretary. In a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest last Thursday, Mrs Obama, who has a thing for soapy DC dramas, said she's amazed by the number of obvious mistakes made by directors who use the White House as a backdrop for their stories.

Talking about one of her favourite flicks, the 1995 Michael Douglas-Annette Bening romance The American President, Mrs Obama quibbled: "This is the thing about that movie . . . once you live in the White House you know there's a florist in the White House. They've got really good flowers downstairs. So why is he out there with his credit card? That would never happen."

While Mrs Obama refused to make any real-to-reel life comparisons with her latest guilty viewing pleasure, Scandal, she did admit she only started watching the Kerry Washington drama while on holiday in Hawaii with Oprah last month. Given that ABC has released 40 episodes of the show, that's some quality time on Oprah's couch.

Ben Affleck in fighting form

Ben Affleck is manning up. Big time. After years of taking abuse for everything from his choice of movies (Daredevil, Gigli) to girlfriends (Jennifer Lopez) the actor, who will next appear in David Fincher's Gone Girl, says he's not taking any more flack from anyone – especially the cyber-trolls who can't stop complaining about his casting as Batman.

In a lengthy, flinty interview with Playboy, Affleck says he was fully prepared for the Batman backlash and insists he isn't worried about negative audience reaction.

"I understand I'm at a disadvantage with the internet. If I thought the result would be another Daredevil I'd be out there picketing myself. Why would I make the movie if I didn't think it was going to be good and that I could be good in it?"

In spite of his newly found bravado, Affleck admits it wasn't easy to turn his career around after a string of clunkers including Paycheck and Surviving Christmas.

"I was terrified directing Gone Baby Gone," he admits, referring to the box-office blockbuster that put him back on the map. "Everybody said, 'This is going to suck. Ben Affleck is directing. This movie's going to be shit'. I was very discouraged by it and didn't have a lot of support from anybody really, except my wife. And Matt."

Following the success of low-profile projects like The Town, The Company Men and Argo – which won the Oscar for Best Film in 2012 – Affleck says he's finally learnt not to give a damn what anyone says. "Once I saw my way out of it, I said, you know what? I don't even care anymore. I'm going to focus on my job. I don't give a shit. Take my picture. Write what you want to write. At the end of the day, what matters is how the movie works." His secret? "I found out bad press doesn't kill you."

Craig a smash on Broadway

Talk about timing. Just as it was claimed that Bond star Daniel Craig had a fling with actress Sienna Miller, who was at the time dating his friend Jude Law, Variety is reporting that the Brit actor has attached himself to a Nicholas Kazan-scripted thriller called, natch, The Whole Truth.

Craig, who is scheduled to slip back into a tux later this year for "Bond 24", is also expected to feature strongly in this year's Tony nominations for his performance in the Harold Pinter revival Betrayal.

Observers, who were surprised that Betrayal took in an astonishing $17.5m over its limited 14-week run which just ended January 5, put the play's box-office success down to the fact that audiences were drawn to see Craig co-starring with his beautiful new wife Rachel Weisz. The same observers now say if the Sienna story had broken earlier, Betrayal might have trounced Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy ($23m) as Broadway's biggest hit of 2013.

Irish Independent