HBO’s Sarah Palin Biopic Draws Most Viewers in 8 Years

“Game Change,” the HBO film about former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s 2008 vice-presidential candidacy, was the cable channel’s most-watched original-film premiere in almost eight years.

The debut at 9 p.m. on March 10 drew an average of 2.1 million viewers, HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc., said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. It was the biggest audience for an original HBO film since “Something the Lord Made” in 2004.

“Game Change,” from Tom Hanks’s Playtone production company, garnered praise from critics and scorn from Palin’s supporters, who said it unfairly portrayed the former governor, who was John McCain’s running mate on the Republican ticket. In four showings over the weekend, the made-for-TV movie, starring Julianne Moore as Palin, drew a total of 3.6 million viewers.

“The political theater makes for a breezy two hours, though it certainly won’t tickle fans of the lipsticked pit bull,” Bloomberg reviewer Greg Evans wrote. “Moore, perfectly coifed and costumed, nails the Palin voice, and mannerisms, and captures the charm.”

Since resigning as governor in 2009, Palin has become a media personality. She is a commentator on News Corp.’s Fox News Channel, the author of two best-selling books, and she starred in her own reality TV show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” on the Discovery Channel.

Palin’s supporters said the HBO film is off the mark in its portrayal of what occurred during the campaign, Randy Scheunemann, Palin’s foreign policy adviser, told reporters on a conference call this month.

“To call this movie fiction gives fiction a bad name,” Scheunemann said. In response, HBO said it stands by the movie, which is based on portions of a nonfiction book of the same name written by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.

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