ReelzChannel CEO Stan Hubbard wants to clear up a few misconceptions about his channel airing the Sarah Palin documentary “The Undefeated” Sunday night.
ReelzChannel sought out the Palin documentary, not the other way around, Hubbard tells Big Hollywood. And slating it to run one day after HBO’s Palin hit piece “Game Change” debuts had nothing to do with politics.
“When we saw they were doing ‘Game Change’ we thought we could probably schedule something close to them and get into the discussion, bring a big audience to the channel,” says Hubbard, who plans to use the extra eyeballs to promote the channel’s first original series, “True Justice,” starring Steven Seagal.
And whoever accuses the network of being used by conservatives to broadcast “The Undefeated” in any way is “completely wrong and doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” he adds.
“Nobody called us to see if we were interested in buying this show,” he says. “I read ‘The Undefeated’ still didn’t have a TV home. We sought it out, we bought the rights and we scheduled it. Never once we were asked by the folks we bought it from when we were going to schedule it. It never came up in the discussion.”
“The Undefeated” examines Palin’s historic rise from small town mayor to arguably the most influential leaders of the Tea Party movement.
Hubbard does defends HBO for depositing “Game Change” into the marketplace during a heated GOP primary season.
“The reality is, we’re in the middle of a primary season, and politics is front and center in the discussion. If you have a movie about Sarah Palin or someone else [like her] it’s time to bring it out,” he says. “We didn’t schedule our film because of Super Tuesday. We scheduled ours because of HBO.”
ReelzChannel got plenty of headlines for broadcasting the miniseries “The Kennedys” last year. The production’s original home, The History Channel, cut bait on the miniseries after liberals pressured the network, claiming the unseen production would trample the family’s political legacy.
With “The Kennedys” and “The Undefeated” on ReelzChannel’s resume, might the cable channel consider following a trail blazed by Fox News in the 24-hour news cycle – addressing the needs of an underserved, right-of-center audience?
“The short answer is no,” Hubbard says. “I don’t think viewers are interested in an agenda from anyone … news channels like Fox or MSNBC might be the exception.”
People don’t want to be preached to, Hubbard says, citing how Oprah Winfrey angered a portion of her audience by endorsing Sen. Barack Obama in 2008.
Hubbard is happy to give a home to heat-generating productions like “The Undefeated.” What he finds offensive is how some voices attempt to silence thought-provoking fare.
“Look at The History Channel,” he says. “They put their hearts and souls into making that miniseries, not to mention millions of dollars. Such severe pressure coming from the political world to kill it, and they did. That’s a tragedy.”