HBO is wasting no time putting together Game Change, an original TV movie based on the events of the 2008 presidential election. The cable network has announced that Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right) will play former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime is a book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, and became a bestseller when it hit newsstands last year. The HBO adaptation will be directed by Jay Roach and written by Danny Strong, both of whom worked on HBO’s Recount, a dramatization of the Bush/Gore election recount in Florida in 2000.

The casting of Moore sends a message that HBO is putting serious effort into the the project; Moore is prolific enough to be a real draw for the movie. Her biggest film in the last year was the independent comedy-drama The Kids Are All Right, nominated for 4 Academy Awards and winner of the Golden Globe for Best Comedy. Moore’s been involved in some high-profile TV projects as of late, playing an arc on NBC’s 30 Rock and a cameo of her signature role on As The World Turns.

No other cast members have been announced by HBO – no mention of who will be playing President Obama, President Clinton or Senator McCain. That could mean one of two things: that Moore is the highest-profile actor that Game Change is likely to secure (a possibility), or that the screenplay will focus particularly on Sarah Palin. The latter seems more likely to me; Palin gained a lot of clout and publicity from the 2008 election, even in defeat.

Moore in Golden Globe-winner ‘The Kids Are All Right’

The real Palin has since left her position as the governor of Alaska and hosted Sarah Palin’s Alaska, a nature program on TLC. She is a contributor to Fox News, and speaks regularly on conservative issues nationwide. She’s still active in the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement, and many political commentators consider her the prime candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential ticket.

The quick turn-around for Game Change indicates a clear intent by HBO and its producers: they want to capitalize on the buzz leading up to the 2012 election. It’s a gutsy move in a political environment as divisive as the current one. Don’t forget that The Kennedys, a dramatization of events fifty years past, failed to find a single major American distributor (the miniseries will be broadcast on independent network, ReelzChannel.)

It will be interesting to see how such recent events – many of which are still affecting the national political spectrum – will be handled in Game Change.

Source: TV Line