Metro at TIFF: Rubbing elbows with Jennifer Garner

Actress Jennifer Garner, HFPA President Dr. Aida Takla O'Reilly and Harvey Weinstein attend the HFPA And InStyle 2011 Toronto International Film Festival Party at Windsor Arms Hotel on September 13, 2011 in Toronto, Canada.

Producer and mogul Harvey Weinstein used the gala premiere of his company’s comedy “Butter” at the Toronto International Film Festival to take on current Republican firebrand Michele Bachmann. The film, a political satire featuring Jennifer Garner as an uptight conservative taking on an African-American foster child in Iowa’s annual butter-sculpting contest, has quickly drawn allusions to Bachmann, among other female political figures.

“I would like to take this moment to formally invite Republican Congresswoman from Minnesota and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to co-host with me the big premiere of ‘Butter’ in Iowa a few months from now,” Weinstein said in a statement, read by one of the film’s stars, Olivia Wilde. “I know Michele will already be in Iowa for the caucus, so we can save money on airfare and travel. I would of course be more than happy to fly in the other leading members of the Tea Party movement to make an entire day of it. We could take some math classes in the morning to help balance the budget, brush up on the Constitution in the afternoon, play some ping-pong and then maybe some verbal ping-pong on gay rights and women’s rights — especially the right to choose.” The statement was interrupted at that point by thunderous applause from the Toronto audience.

“But at night we can all go hand-in-hand to the premiere of ‘Butter,’ a fun and important film where we’ll share some popcorn and laughs,” Wilde continued. “These are the kind of bipartisan efforts that make America great.”

Metro spoke with Garner, who is also a producer on the film, the next day for her reaction to Weinstein’s move. “Look, Harvey is a genius at a few things. He’s really good at a lot of things, but he’s a genius at a few things. Casting is one of them, and another one is without a doubt promotion and getting the word out about a movie, and that’s what he’s doing,” she says. “[Director] Jim Field Smith and I don’t think of this movie as a political movie by any stretch. We think of it as a comedy, as a piece of entertainment, a colloquial story that has some kind of dark undertones and pokes fun at politics in a small way. But that’s why we’re not in charge of promoting it and he is.”

As much as Weinstein’s move might make drawing comparisons between Garner’s character and Bachman seem all too obvious, she’s quick to point out that’s not what she was going for — at least not really. “It just shows how much they pervade the political landscape, how much the Tea Party is of the moment,” Garner tells Metro. “We did this long enough ago that I wasn’t trying to be Michele Bachmann — I didn’t know who she was. I wasn’t after Sarah Palin. But that’s so much a part of what’s out there that I played it close enough to what you would think of them that you can’t help but draw that comparison.”


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