Journos flooded the Landmark E St. Cinema last night for the Washington premiere of “Casino Jack,” the late George Hickenlooper‘s film about power lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon who famously defrauded several Indian tribes out of millions of dollars. Starring Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey who played Abramoff, the film featured well-known Washington journos Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews while Washington Post reporter Susan Schmidt and Emily Miller, now of Human Events, were portrayed by actresses Ruth Marshall and Rachelle Lefevre.
The premiere, presented by Lani Hay of Lanmark Technology and the Creative Coalition, was hosted by NBC’s Chris Matthews who couldn’t help himself from dinging the GOP during his intro, saying “the Republicans are back in office and they did foster the career of Jack Abramoff.” He then told the theater, “If you come to Washington without a moral compass, you’re not going to find one here.”
Following the screening, Spacey and Matthews took questions and comments from an audience that included MSNBC’s Luke Russert and Andrea Mitchell, WaPo‘s Amy Argetsinger, Politics Daily’s Annie Groer, Elizabeth Thorpe, Qorvis’ Kelley McCormick, Tammy Haddad, The Hill’s Christina Wilkie, Politico’s Kiki Ryan, CBS’s Christine Delargy, WaPo‘s Garance Franke-Ruta, Janet Donovan, Examiner‘s Nikki Schwab, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley and Vicki Kennedy.
A man who claimed to know the Abramoff family for fifteen years took the Q & A session as an opportunity to commend Spacey for “capturing Jack so perfectly.” Surprisingly, the actor’s portrayal did not demonize the fallen K Street wonderboy. He instead presented Abramoff as an almost lovable nerd who found himself too wrapped up in the game – ironic for a lobbyist whose sweet spot was casino gambling, no?
My only beef with the film was the casting and performance of Rachelle Lefevre who played Emily Miller, the Human Events editor and Michael Scanlon’s former fiancee who allegedly alerted the FBI of the fraud after learning that Scanlon was sleeping with another woman. The character was underdeveloped, disjointed and quite frankly, nothing like Ms. Miller.
Check out “Casino Jack” when it hits theaters on December 17th. Spacey’s performance is a must-see.