It’s sad and dispiriting to hear that Sydney Pollack has decided against directing the HBO movie Recount, a verite-styled drama about about the fiercely contested 2000 U.S. presidential election, because of illness. Pollack’s spokesperson Leslee Dart said “he’s got some medical issues” and “is not feeling well right now,” making it “unrealistic” for him to move into production within the next few weeks.

Sydney Pollack, Jay Roach, Danny Strong

The head-scratcher, of course, is the decision to replace Pollack with comedy director Jay Roach (the Austin Powers films, Meet The Parents/Fockers — he was also one of the Borat producers). Roach is a proficient pro and he’s obviously looking to strike a blow for his own artistic maturity by directing Recount, but c’mon…when I think of Jay Roach, I think of a funnier Brett Ratner without the poon.
I’ve read a rough draft of Recount that convinced me it could be really good. I just hope Roach doesn’t screw it up. I’m sure he has the exact same thought on his mind right now.
Written by Danny Strong, Recount will be “a character-driven film about all the squabbling, spinning, vote-disqualifying and Supreme Court deliberating that eventually handed George Bush the presidency despite Al Gore winning the popular vote in both Florida and across the nation,” as I wrote earlier. News reports are saying Recount will begin shooting “in the fall,” but I was told yesterday that Roach may need a little while to get up to speed so it may not shoot until later in the year.
The following quote appears on page 137 of Strong’s script, and I am revealing nothing as it is from a published dissenting opinion by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens regarding Bush vs. Gore: “Although we may never know with complete certainty the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”