Exploiting the obvious
: NBC has announced that it plans to make a movie about the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch — whether or not she cooperates and gets paid. CBS is also considering a TV movie.
There are two things wrong with this:
First, of course, if you make the movie without her and don’t pay her that is unconscionable exploitation. It is wrong. It is also terrible PR. The audience that loves her for what she represents — hope, victory, and patriotism — will hate the network that screws her.
Second, the movie is bound to be awful. Name the last TV movie that was worth a damn….. I’ll wait… Time’s up… The form of the TV movie, which once produced good work, is all but dead. I used to watch TV movies for a living and I saw the genre die (and miniseries before them) simply because there is now too much competition from cable. TV movies are back to where they started: They are the shlocky leftovers.
So this movie will be bad just because of what it is. But it will be bad for another important reason: It will do nothing but upchuck the news we’ve already seen — and seen with greater frequency than we ever used to see such news. We all know this story. Any of us could write the script. My neighbor could play Jessica without a script. The movie will add nothing new, no perspective, no heart. You might as well just play a tape from FoxNews; that will have just as much drama.
Eventually, Pfc. Lynch’s story will be told and very well might make a good movie. But not yet, and not under these circumstances.