Aaron Sorkin blasts TLC for Sarah Palin reality show

By Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 8, 2010; 9:55 PM

Sarah Palin is "deranged" and Silver Spring-based cable net TLC "should be ashamed of itself" for airing a program that's all about her - particularly this past Sunday's episode in which she "hunted, killed and carved up a Caribou during a segment of her truly awful reality show 'Sarah Palin's Alaska' on The Now Hilariously Titled Learning Channel," screenwriter/producer Aaron Sorkin said Wednesday.

"In Her Defense, I'm Sure the Moose Had It Coming," said Sorkin, blogging on the Huffington Post.

Sorkin appears not to have gotten the memo in which TLC - home to such series as "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant," "Hoarding: Buried Alive," "Toddlers & Tiaras," "19 Kids and Counting" and "DC Cupcakes" - officially declared it's no longer channeling learning. These days, the "T," the "L" and the "C" in the basic cable network's name do not stand for anything in particular, the network insists, though its logo includes the words "Live and Learn," so at least they own their mistakes, preemptively.

Maybe we can come up with a new name for the network that, since Nov. 14, has been telecasting Palin's animal-extermination epic - two weeks ago she went fishin' for halibut with her "Dancing With the Stars" runner-up daughter Bristol, fondling the still-beating heart out of one, to share with viewers at home.

Sorkin is well known for his work in the political-drama genre - he's the guy who wrote the screenplay for the flicks "The American President" and "Charlie Wilson's War." Sorkin's also the guy behind NBC's critically acclaimed White House drama "The West Wing." These days, he's adapting Andrew Young's book "The Politician," about former senator John Edwards, into a flick, which will also mark Sorkin's movie-directing debut.

"I'm able to make a distinction between you and me without feeling the least bit hypocritical," Sorkin blogged, getting back to Palin and her series on TLC. (Torturing Lesser Creatures?)

"I don't watch snuff films and you make them," Sorkin told Palin. "You weren't killing that animal for food or shelter or even fashion, you were killing it for fun. You enjoy killing animals. I can make the distinction between the two of us but I've tried and tried and for the life of me, I can't make a distinction between what you get paid to do and what Michael Vick went to prison for doing."

Vick, of course, is the now Philadelphia Eagles quarterback who did time for engaging in organized dogfighting for gambling purposes - and then got his own reality series in which he could rehab his image. That reality series was called "The Michael Vick Project." It did not air on TLC. (Tender Loving Channel?)

Instead, BET bought the Michael Vick gem.

Sorkin did not come up with the snuff-video gag all on his own; the group In Defense of Animals had already given that label to the halibut episode.

But, back to his blog:

"So I don't think I will save my condemnation, you phony pioneer girl," Sorkin continued, now on a roll.

"You didn't just do it for fun and you didn't just do it for money. That was the first moose ever murdered for political gain. You knew there'd be a protest from PETA and you knew that would be an opportunity to hate on some people, you witless bully. What a uniter you'd be - bringing the right together with the far right."

In fact, Palin had already fired back at critics of the episode - about nine hours before the episode aired.

"Unless you've never worn leather shoes, sat upon a leather couch or eaten a piece of meat, save your condemnation of tonight's episode. I remain proudly intolerant of anti-hunting hypocrisy," Palin wrote shortly before noon Sunday on her Facebook page.

Sorkin thinks the whole grizzly mama made-for-TV persona is oversold. "I'm in film and television, Cruella, and there was an insert close-up of your manicure while you were roughing it in God's country. I know exactly how many feet off camera your hair and make-up trailer was," said Sorkin, who's also the screenwriter for the recently released flick "The Social Network."

We contacted TLC (Tiny Little Cupcakes?) to ask if anyone at the network had something to say about Sorkin's blog post.

"There was no hair and makeup" trailer when shooting the Sarah-shoots-a-caribou episode, a rep for TLC (Too Little Class?) told the TV Column. In fact, the rep said, neither the network nor show producer Mark Burnett hired hair and makeup for Palin during the making of this series. There is one scene in which Palin is seen getting hair and makeup done for a photo shoot while on a book tour, but those services were provided by the book-tour organizer, said the rep, who declined to comment on any other aspect of Sorkin's blog post.

But Palin had something to say Wednesday about Sorkin's Michael Vick gag: "So a left-wing Hollywood producer thinks there is no 'distinction' between harvesting healthy, wild organic protein to feed my family and engaging in dog fighting?" Palin wrote in an e-mail to the Associated Press. "I didn't know anyone ate dogs, tanned the hides, and made boots out of them."

"Sarah Palin's Alaska" premiered with an average audience of 5 million viewers, which is the biggest audience for a series launch in TLC history, but the show has lost a large chunk of that audience since. The halibut-fishing episode averaged 3 million viewers. And the most recent episode - the one in which Sarah nailed the caribou - averaged 2.8 million viewers Sunday at 9 p.m.

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