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US elections

Weinstein 're-edited film' to give Obama starring role

A film about the US assault on Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound was at the centre of a brewing political row last night, with claims of partisan bias in Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden.

At the centre of the confab over the 90-minute docudrama, which made its prime-time-television debut on the National Geographic Channel two nights before the presidential election, is the relationship between Barack Obama, who as commander-in-chief gave the nod to Operation Neptune Spear, and Harvey Weinstein, the film's backer and a spirited champion of the President's re-election campaign. Mr Weinstein, who was behind an array of blockbusters including Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill movies, bought the rights to the film for a reported $2.5m at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Since then, the movie has been reworked in the editing room, though both Mr Weinstein and the film's director, John Stockwell, have insisted that the changes were not politically motivated. Instead, Mr Weinstein is said to have suggested revisions that "gave the movie context", according to an essay by Mr Stockwell posted on the Huffington Post website. "We never discussed politics. The truth is, in researching the film, I was struck by what a terrible 'political' decision Obama made... The risk/reward ratio was not weighted in his favour."

But according to The New York Times, the film "has been recut, using news and documentary footage to strengthen Mr Obama's part", giving him, as the paper put it, a "starring" turn in the finished product.

It has sparked claims of propaganda on the eve of the election. "Seal Team Six... isn't just meant to remind voters of the Bin Laden raid, it's an expensive infomercial for Obama 2012," said the conservative online magazine FrontPageMag.