Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly gives an enthusiastic two thumbs up for “Lincoln,” the new Steven Spielberg film which documents the final few months of the Civil War as Abraham Lincoln tries to get the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery through the House of Representatives.
TVNewser attended the screening and a Q&A with Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays Lincoln, and screenwriter Tony Kushner moderated by TIME’s Rick Stengel. Stengel called first on O’Reilly who asked Day-Lewis how long it took to prepare for the role. “It took a year,” Day-Lewis says. “It seemed preposterous at first … growing up in Southeast London” to play the 16th president of the United States.
O’Reilly then gave his seal of approval: “You know you’re going to win Best Picture.” Then, to Day-Lewis, “and you’re going to win Best Actor.” And to Spielberg: “And you’re going to win Best Director and [Tommy Lee] Jones is going to win Best Supporting Actor.” Jones plays “Radical Republican” Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens.
Before the screening we had a chance to talk with O’Reilly, author of “Killing Lincoln” on its 55th week on the New York Times Best-Sellers list, this week at No. 5. His “Killing Kennedy” is No. 1 on the list for the second straight week.
We asked the Fox News star if he was excited by the news that FNC chairman and CEO Roger Ailes had signed on for another four years. “Excited? We’d be shocked if he hadn’t,” said O’Reilly.
Other notable tvnewsers at the event, “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl, who had a revealing feature on Spielberg last Sunday, “CBS This Morning’s” Gayle King, Charlie Rose, and EP Chris Licht. MSNBC’s Chris Jansing and Lawrence O’Donnell, who ducked out during the Q&A to make it back to 30 Rock for his 10pm show. CNN execs Mark Whitaker, Ken Jautz and Bart Feder and ABC’s “This Week” EP Sandy Cannold.
And, after an early morning co-hosting “GMA,” Oprah Winfrey also attended. She gave a bear hug to Kushner. Then, exiting the theater — appropriately at the Loews Lincoln Square on the Upper
West Side — and as only Oprah can, she bellowed for Spielberg as he made his way up the elevator: “S-T-E-V-E-N,” Oprah called and at the top of the elevator the two chatted along with Day-Lewis.
“Lincoln” is as much about the inner workings of a president getting his agenda through a bitterly divided Congress as it is about the man himself: Lincoln the father, doting on his young son Tad while keeping a stove pipe hat’s length from his older son Robert; and the husband of Mary Todd Lincoln — played beautifully by Sally Field. Her excesses: “She was a bit of a shopaholic,” said Spielberg, and her demons. In one overwrought scene, Mary pleads with the President, questioning why he didn’t commit her years earlier, as he’d threatened, following the death of their third son Willie.
Beyond a battle scene and Lincoln’s visits to the fields of war, small rooms and cramped quarters dominate the feel of the film. Spielberg says he wanted to convey “a feeling of claustrophobia” in Washington, a swampy southern city, surrounded by war.
The film will be released Nov. 9, four days after the presidential election. Spielberg’s intent.