Mavericks: HBO

Alex Gibney, HBO and Discovery
June 1, 2008

Alex Gibney, HBO and Discovery share a turbulent Taxi ride
HBO and header Sheila Nevins came in like a lion after Discovery appeared to bow out like a lamb when it came to Alex Gibney’s Academy Award-winning effort Taxi to the Dark Side. The Silver Spring-based cabler held the rights to the controversial Iraq doc but put off a screening, mumbling something about previous commitments, or really needing to get serious about losing some weight. And the garden isn’t going to just weed itself, you know.

Gibney raised a stink about the ThinkFilm-handled flick, and Discovery eventually negotiated with HBO to give up the pay-TV rights for a September small screen debut – timed for the film to appear (uncut) just before the US election. Investigation Discovery has plans to follow along with a cable showing in 2009.

Perhaps it’s just a confluence of timing and events that look suspicious to the jaded and hygiene-impaired in the press corps/blogosphere, but it certainly looks as though Discovery watched this Oscar-winning pitch sail by. One nagging question remains: why touch the rights to such a politically charged doc in the first place if you have no plans to air it in the most politically charged climate in a decade? Maybe the timing was just too perfect.

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