HBO lauds ‘Game Change’ ratings, but Palin movie couldn’t top ‘Pawn Stars’ rerun

March 13, 2012

One massive marketing and GOP-undies-bunching campaign later, the unveiling of HBO’s Sarah Palin flick, “Game Change,”attracted 2.123 million viewers Saturday night at 9. HBO says “Game Change” brought in the biggest original-movie opening crowd in about eight years.

To put the audience in perspective, that’s slightly fewer people than sat down the next afternoon at 2 to watch a rerun episode of History’s “Pawn Stars” (2.129 million viewers).

Over the course of the weekend, multiple telecasts of “Game Change” — which chronicles the decision of Republican Sen. John McCain’s campaign to campaign with the little-known Alaskan governor as his presidential running mate — averaged a cumulative 3.6 million viewers. That’s slightly more than half the number of people who watched an original episode of History’s “Pawn Stars” last Monday night at 10.

HBO, at this point, would note that it’s a premium-cable operation and, as such, does not have the same near-universal distribution of such basic-cable networks as History, much less the universal distribution of the broadcast networks.

HBO would also mention that, in keeping with its practice for rolling out new product, it will litter the content-watching firmament with additional opportunities to see “Game Change” over the coming days.

All true. And yet, HBO boasted in a news release issued Tuesday that its unveiling of “Game Change” doubled the premiere audience of 2008’s “Recount” — the previous HBO political flick from the same team of writer Danny Strong and director Jay Roach.

HBO has run more than 30 original movies since early 2004, when Nielsen finally stopped “rolling up” HBO ratings — i.e., counting all of HBO’s channels in its reporting for a program that ran on the mothership channel, even if those other channels were not running that program.

In the past eight years, the ratings record-holder for an HBO original flick remains “Something the Lord Made,” which attracted 2.6 million viewers to its May 30, 2004, premiere.

Vikings make History

And speaking of History channel: Showtime has its Borgias and its Tudors, Starz has its Thracian slaves of the ancient Roman Republic, HBO its seven kingdoms of Westeros, AMC its zombies in Atlanta — and now History has its Vikings.

The network announced Tuesday that it has made a full first-season commitment for its first scripted drama series — about Norse warriors — to debut in ’13.

History says that it’s ordered “Vikings” because though “they were the fiercest adventurers of all time,” their story has “never been told.”

In its announcement, History noted that the Viking name has been synonymous with brutality, terror and mystery ever since the first war bands appeared along the coasts of England and France at the end of the 8th century.

This series will follow one Ragnar Lothbrok, who, History notes, was “the greatest hero of his age.” It seems that Ragnar rose to become king of the Viking tribes. Legend has it, Ragnar was a descendant of Odin, the god of war and warriors — though he may just have had a particularly good publicist.

Unlike past movies and dramas that caricatured Vikings as barbarians, History said — wait, I thought their story had never been told! — this series will look “from within the heart of Viking society.”

Loosely translated, this means, the series will be high on adventure, exploration, conflict, warfare and bloodshed (because “these were extreme times,” History said) but, at the show’s heart, it will “also be a family saga.” So, the battles will be “imaginatively choreographed” and emphasize “individual points of view, strategies and ruses rather than mindless, graphic slaughter,” History said.

Take that, “Spartacus” network Starz!

Eastwood makes E!’s day

NBC-Universal cable network E! has greenlighted a new reality docu-soap, but it’s not about a Kardashian and it’s not produced by Ryan Seacrest.

Instead, it’s produced by Bunim/Murray Productions — the company that brings you “The Real World” and “Road Rules.” The series stars Clint Eastwood’s wife, his daughters and the South African boy band his wife manages.

“Mrs. Eastwood & Company” will premiere in May.

“People might be surprised by how we live our lives and our unconventional approach,” Eastwood’s wife, Dina, said in the announcement. “I also believe that it’s hard not to fall in love with my band, Overtone.”

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/
tvblog.

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