2008 meltdown plays like disaster flick in HBO film

Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:40pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The 2008 financial meltdown may sound like a dry topic for a TV movie, but the team that turned best-selling book "Too Big to Fail" into an upcoming HBO film say their project plays out more like a disaster movie.

Based on the book of the same name by journalist Andrew Sorkin, the film version recreates tense meetings in the corridors of power on Wall Street and in Washington where banking executives and public officials grappled with the U.S. economy as it went into a tailspin fueled by toxic mortgages.

The movie version, which airs on cable channel HBO in May, uses real news reports and video of events that took place during the fast-moving weeks of September 2008 but it takes no overt political stance on what happened.

"I think we are trying to tell the story as accurately, factually and dramatically as we can," screenplay writer Peter Gould told television writers at a brief preview last week.

"Making it dramatic wasn't that much of challenge because the events were extraordinary. We were trying to tease out a view of what it looked like from the inside.

"It is ultimately a disaster movie because you have people coping with disaster and under a lot of stress," Gould added.

The top-flight cast includes William Hurt as then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Paul Giamatti as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, James Woods as beleaguered Dick Fuld, then chief executive of Lehman Brothers, Ed Asner as investor Warren Buffett, and Billy Crudup as current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

Oscar winner Hurt said the cast spent a couple of weeks absorbing a glossary of complex economic and financial terms before filming began. But his best preparation was meeting Paulson himself.   Continued...