Splashy Sarah Palin Movie Premiere Shuts Out Hollywood; Turns Away Journalists
PELLA, IOWA -- Reporters from around the country that have descended upon tiny Pella, Iowa for the premiere of the Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated on Tuesday night are in for a rude awakening: So scarce are the tickets that there’s no room in the theater for journalists.
The town, in fact, has been filling up rapidly since Palin confirmed she’d attend the premiere with her husband, Todd. Police notified residents that the streets around the venue, the 111-year-old Pella Opera House, would be shut down beginning 13 hours prior to show time.
On Monday, organizers were still divvying up tickets to the massively oversubscribed event, and reporters – some who travelled more than 1,000 miles -- were given the word that they didn’t make the cut.
Organizers were scrambling Monday, though, trying to arrange a separate screening for journalists, but there were no guarantees given.
The Undefeated, from writer-director Steve Bannon, is one of two documentaries about the controversial former vice presidential candidate. The other – a less flattering look at Palin -- is an untitled film from Nick Broomfield that is seeking a distributor.
Bannon has opted for a low-key premiere – “the hard, worn bricks of the Pella Opera House is all the red carpet I need,” he said Monday – though road closures and media trucks have dictated otherwise. Bannon, a U.S. Navy veteran, also enlisted some retired Navy SEALs for security detail.
Most of the 340 tickets went to Iowans and some of the commentators featured in the film, like Tammy Bruce and Sonnie Johnson. The most controversial cast member – not including Palin herself – is Andrew Breitbart, who is expected to be a last-minute arrival on Tuesday.
“I didn’t invite all my right-wing Hollywood friends,” Bannon said. “Jon Voight, Dennis Miller, I’ll have a screening for those guys later. I’d actually like them to buy a ticket, but they’re so tight… And you can quote me on that,” he joked.”
Pella is a religiously and politically conservative town of 10,000 people that boasts three dozen churches. With those sensibilities in mind, and because the Palins will be in the audience, Bannon and company will screen the version of the film with the less offensive opening.
The Undefeated begins with celebrities – David Letterman, Matt Damon, Howard Stern, Madonna, Louis C.K. and others – thoroughly trashing Palin, though Tuesday’s audience will be treated to bleeps instead of the more hardcore profanity used by some of the entertainers. Either way, it’s an intense opening made all the more menacing by the choice of music and the inclusion of a Bible verse.
The premiere includes a barbecue for 1,000 guests – no media – where Palin intends on mingling, though it wasn’t determined yet whether she’d make any public remarks.