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Rediscovering ‘George Wallace’

20 Jan, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

George Wallace

For the Jan. 20 DVD release of George Wallace, Gary Sinise can take a large chunk of the credit.

“The movie may never have seen the light of day on DVD because it was so off the radar. … These movies will just disappear,” said the 53-year-old actor, who called Warner Home Video to discuss a potential DVD after picking the film to be shown at the 2008 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.

“I asked [Warner] if they would consider putting it on DVD,” Sinise said. “And they did, realizing they had one of director [John] Frankenheimer’s great movies sitting on the shelf.”

Airing on TNT over two nights in 1997, the docudrama biopic about segregationist George Wallace, the three-term Alabama governor and four-time presidential candidate, earned wide acclaim. Sinise, actress Mare Winningham and the late director Frankenheimer all took home Emmys for their work on George Wallace, and both the film and actress Angelina Jolie earned Golden Globes.

“Warner Bros. is especially excited to release this on inauguration day,” said Allison Ceppi, TV DVD marketing director for Warner Home Video. “Given all the progress [the United States] has made, we’re very, very proud to release this.”

Sinise said the movie took a long time to see a DVD release because Frankenheimer — who died in 2002 — wasn’t alive to push for it.

“He had always talked about what he was going to do with the DVD,” Sinise said. “He wanted me to do the commentary with him. We always had a special, creative relationship that started with George Wallace. There was nobody to drive the DVD being made after he died.”

The two-disc set includes a bonus featurette with new interviews from Sinise, Jolie and Winningham; archival footage of Frankenheimer, writer Marshall Frady and Carliner; and an interview with Evans Frankenheimer, the director’s widow.

Sinise said first-time viewers of George Wallace may be surprised with what they find out about the man. “He was more of a populist than someone driven by ideology,” he said. “If integrating the schools was the popular thing, he would have done it.”

Actor Gary Sinise held a reception and screening at Fox Studios Jan. 18 to mark the Jan. 20 DVD release of the miniseries. (L-R): Executive producer Mark Carliner; Evans Frankenheimer, widow of director John Frankenheimer; actress Mare Winningham; Sinise; and Allison Ceppi, Warner Home Video TV DVD marketing director.


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