If you don't know the name Billy Ray, you should, and I'm not talking about Billy Ray Cyrus. (There's no reason to know him.) The filmmaker Billy Ray, despite having a name like a Dukes of Hazzard character, has written and directed two excellent fact-based movies about powerful figures who were brought down by their own hubris. Shattered Glass told of a promising young journalist who was ultimately disgraced for making up news stories, while Breach chronicled the fall of a morally upright FBI agent who sold secrets to the Russians.

For his next act, Ray will tell another true story about an ethically compromised man: Allen Raymond, a Republican political consultant who went to prison for some shady maneuvers he pulled in trying to swing a tight Senate race in New Hampshire in 2002. Raymond's memoir, How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative, was published earlier this year, and Ray will write and direct the movie version for Fox Searchlight sometime in 2009, according to Variety.

What did Raymond do? It's actually kind of brilliant, in an evil way. With funding from New Hampshire's Republican State Committee, Raymond hired a telemarketing firm to constantly jam the state's Democratic headquarters' phones with hangup calls, preventing the Democrats from making any outbound calls on Election Day. Meanwhile, the Republicans were making the customary get-out-the-vote phone calls all day long, and their candidate won the election by a very narrow margin.

Dirty tricks surely happen on both sides of the political fence, and if How to Rig an Election turns out to be nothing more than an anti-GOP diatribe, at least it will have been based on Raymond's own account rather than someone else's. But I suspect Ray will do a better job than that. Breach and Shattered Glass both did a classy job of presenting their moral dilemmas, and How to Rig an Election has the potential to be another thought-provoking case study.
categories Movies, Cinematical