Just because a screenplay earns positive and even glowing notices and gets two stars and a director attached to it still doesn’t guarantee that the film will ever get made. Case in point – the 2010 Black List topper College Republicans. Once the Wes Jones-authored script appeared on that list of the best currently unproduced screenplays circulating in Hollywood, director Richard Linklater became involved and Shia LaBeouf and Paul Dano quickly became attached to star as Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, the future Republican Party operatives just at the start of their political careers. A possible November 2011 start date for the project was announced.
But since then… Nothing.
We chatted briefly with Dano this past weekend about what the status of the project was and he did not seem optimistic that the film was going to get made. “I don’t think it is happening,” he stated. “It may happen some day, I don’t know.”
When pressed for a reason, Dano suggested that it was probably the story itself, despite being well told, that made it difficult to get funding. “It’s a tough film, ” he explained. “Is it a commercial film? Is it not? What’s the politics of the film? It’s a tricky one. I’m not sure.”
The College Republicans screenplay covers the first meeting between Rove and Atwater in 1973 when Rove was making a run for national president of the College Republicans organization.
Atwater and Rove have carved themselves a legacy for having engineered political campaigns that used tactics that could be considered legally and ethically questionable. Atwater ultimately rose to become chairman of the Republican National Committee and campaign manager for President George Herbert Walker Bush. Rove would manage George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. By becoming a key advisor to the president during his eight years in office, he earned the nickname “Bush’s Brain.” In 1990, after being diagnosed with brain cancer, Atwater converted to Catholicism and sent apologizes to many of the politicians he felt he wronged with his tactics over the years before dying in March 1991.
Dano was at an appearance in East Stroudsburg, PA where he was doing a question and answer session following a screening of his recent film Being Flynn.