How PBS's Hillary Clinton Film Hopes to Avoid Backlash to CNN and NBC Films

How PBS's Hillary Clinton Film Hopes to Avoid Backlash to CNN and NBC Films

TCA 2014: What PBS's “Makers” is doing differently from canceled projects

Hillary Clinton TV projects have had a bad track record lately: Conservative backlash helped kill planned films about the former Secretary of State at both CNN and NBC.

PBS is accustomed to being dragged into political fights — just look at Mitt Romney's surprise attack on Big Bird in the 2012 election. But with its upcoming look at Clinton's accomplishments, the public television network hopes to avoid the objections that buried the other networks’ projects.

Also read: Hillary Clinton Named Barbara Walters’ ‘Most Fascinating’ Person of 2013 (Video)

Clinton is one of many women featured in six upcoming “Makers” documentaries coming to PBS this summer. The films highlight women's achievements.

“I think our trademark is historical context,” said Dyllan McGee,the Emmy award-winning filmmaker behind the project. “We're looking at where Hillary falls in the line of politicians. What is her role and who has come before her? So it's not just Hillary's story. It's a broad context.”

Also read: How George Takei, Jimmie Walker, Ray Romano, Bob Newhart and Leslie Uggams Changed TV

That differentiates PBS's project from the CNN and NBC ones, which focused specifically on the former New York senator and first lady. The PBS project also features Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Olympia Snowe.

Snowe is a Republican, which may dispel complaints that the film is biased toward Democrats. Republicans’ main complaints about the Clinton films was that they would have focused on her just ahead of the 2016 campaign, in which she may be a presidential candidate. Republicans argued that that would give her an unfair advantage.

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McGee said it was unclear whether the PBS project would face a backlash, despite its different approach.

“We'll see. We haven't finished the film yet,” she said.

Clinton is one of many women highlighted in the latest series of “Makers” films, which started last year. A panel Wednesday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour featured comedian Kathy Griffin, astronaut Peggy Whitson, and former CIA operations officer Valerie Plame, all of whom are featured in the films.

Also read: RNC: We Got NBC and CNN's Hillary Clinton Projects Canned

The three are featured in the new documentaries along with many others, including astronaut Mae Jemison, war correspondents Molly Moore, Clarissa Ward, and Christiane Amanpour, actress Jane Fonda, comedian Sarah Silverman, writer-actress Lena Dunham, producer Shonda Rhimes, astronaut Mae Jemison, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Plame, famously outed as a CIA operative in a column by Robert Novak, said that in much of the world, “women are wallpaper,” barely noticed by men. That can be helpful to spycraft, she said.

“You can move around in a lot of places without anyone looking askance at you,” she said.

  • Beawild

    PBS shouldn't be worried. The RW will complain anyway, but who cares?

  • hp b

    The film will only be killed if Vince Foster is in there somewhere.
    After all, there is a precedent..

    • Dan Mac

      Anything about Whitewater in the last Clinton bio they did, what was it, last year?

      • hp b

        That's water under the bridge, along with her miraculous stock market prestidigitations. (hey, she IS a witch)
        Much much bigger fish in the barrel these days.
        The whole world is her oyster and besides, the Carny Prince Bill is busy (working nights) at his apprenticeship with Poppy Bush, owner of the Sinaloa cartel franchise.
        Today I saw an article with Barbara (beautiful mind) Bush gushing all over her adopted boy, Bill. Shrub is just embarrassing.

        • Dan Mac

          Anything on Benghazi this time around, ya think?
          Maybe an encore showing in '15, '16? Or a NEW production, hoping it doesn't draw any additional “backlash”?

    • paul

      didn't he kill himself ?…the right handed guy, with his left hand ?, and a 1911

  • Dan Mac

    It doesn't matter if they're “left” or “right” wing, PBS needs to be careful here, because they're taxpayer-subsidized. And PBS is not known for their “right” wing content.
    I find it hard to believe that they can't find someone besides Clinton to include in a show of this type. Their timing and content will appear to be suspect here, no matter which “side” you're on.

    • hp b

      The neo-cons and neo-libs are on the same side, (AKA), the Zio-side.

      Therefore there will be plenty of Zios (wink wink) represented, as per usual.

    • Jesusisdemocrat

      It is interesting that no neo-cons said anything regarding the movie, much less the timing, about John McCain during his presidential run.
      OH, I forget, silly me, The right wing has succeeded in having a complete double standard!!!

      • Dan Mac

        Right wing double standard? Are you serious?

        • Jesusisdemocrat

          What about my statement did you find ambivalent? Also, unlike most post, I used a very specific example.
          Please tell me how a political group that sees it's members as free from moral examination and many other issues, doesn't have a double standard: For example: The hypocrisy going after Clinton for improper sexual relations when ALL of those in the lead had or was involved in same; The tool of a “News” channel that constantly goes after libs for things their darling's have done-Cheney making derogatory remarks about Pres Obama reducing military forces for budget reasons-forget (yea, right) that he did the same!!!

          • Dan Mac

            Democrats have raised hypocrisy to art form.
            Clinton was a predator, like Kennedy (Dem).
            Who is “all”?

  • paul

    shes too old, and too gay to be prez.

  • alevyla

    The real difference between the PBS project and the ones on NBC and CNN is that, since it'll be on PBS, nobody will see it.

  • Ava1

    you wrote Mae Jemison twice. Just to be clear, that doesn't count as twice the diversity.

  • Doctor Who

    Next time, Try HBO.

  • Jesusisdemocrat

    While definitely having problems with Clinton, I cannot believe the moronic posts here. Of course, the McCain movie on network TV when he was actually running for pres was fine.
    As to the comment about no one seeing it if on PBS…yep, it's not “American Idol” or “Duck Dynasty” !!! One might have to use their brain, and the “Tea-party” leaders wag their finger at that!!!