March 08, 2006
Coming to a theater (possibly) near you: "The Big Buy"

You may recall the movie "The Big Buy", which I reviewed a few months ago. Here now is your chance to see it for yourself.

As former House Majority Leader DeLay readied himself Tuesday to accept his party's nomination for another congressional term in Washington, D.C., two Texas filmmakers announced plans to release a scathing documentary in DeLay's Sugar Land district, criticizing the popular politician. Tentative plans also call for a screening in Houston, they said.

Numerous liberal groups stepped up to sponsor the film's expected release in early May, including Houston's Pacifica radio station, KPFT-FM (90.1). The film will rely heavily upon releases in small venues and at a few select theaters.

Filmmakers Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck spent three years following the path of Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle's criminal investigation, which resulted in indictments against DeLay and two political associates.

DeLay is charged with conspiring to funnel $190,000 in corporate cash illegally to seven Texas House candidates in the 2002 elections. The film highlights how the Republican-controlled state Legislature redrew the congressional districts at DeLay's request. Birnbaum and Schermbeck said they chose to profile the political heavyweight even before he was indicted. They said they had considered the film complete until DeLay was charged.

Ten minutes were added to the film. Attorneys for DeLay and the two others charged — John Colyandro, director of Texans for a Republican Majority, and Jim Ellis, director of DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority — appear in the film. DeLay declined to appear.

As Birnbaum and Schermbeck wrote in October, they originally pitched the idea of this documentary to DeLay:

The idea of making a documentary about DeLay and his political action committee — Texans for a Republican Majority, or TRMPAC — originated in early 2003. It seemed like a story that could put the 2002 Texas state elections and the Congressional redistricting battles in context. Since it had an organization created by DeLay at its center, the story also had the potential to affect the second-most powerful Texan in Washington.

We first approached DeLay's office about doing a film from his perspective as an elected official under the microscope. His office declined our offer. We then went to the next logical choice: [Travis County DA Ronnie] Earle.

Our goal was to be on the scene if the case ever got past the grand jury, which was anything but certain when we started.

It's kind of a shame that DeLay declined the opportunity to tell his story this way, though totally understandable that he would, given the "anything you say can and will be used against you" nature of criminal justice. I suspect it would have made for some fascinating filmmaking. What we did get is pretty good on its own merits, and I'm very interested in seeing what has been added since I first saw the film. Schedule permitting, I hope to be at the premier in May.

Your moment of Zen for the day, from the original article:

Dick DeGuerin, DeLay's attorney, said the film offers little in the way of balance.

"I think it's about as fair and balanced as Michael Moore's stuff or Fox News," he said.

Does Roger Ailes know that Tom DeLay's mouthpiece considers Fox News to be, um, not a trustworthy source of information? I'm just asking.

Anyway. As The Daily DeLay notes, you can sign up to host your own screening of the film. Let the theater-versus-DVD debate rage beyond the Oscars, I say! And read more about how this film got to be distributed in this fashion here.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 08, 2006 to Scandalized! | TrackBack