A Fallen Star Is Born

Tom DeLay's scandals are a gold mine for two Texas filmmakers

After DeLay's indictment came plenty of press and film-fest offers and distribution deals; there was even talk of getting The Big Buy into Sundance, which would have delayed its opening date. As it is, the movie will not screen in Austin before DeLay goes to trial in the near, or distant, future -- if he ever stands trial at all. The filmmakers worry it will taint the potential jury pool; Earle likely shares their fears, though he will not comment on the movie till after any and all legal proceedings are complete.

"When I saw their film, my eyes were opened up as to how it happened and what happened," says Greenwald, whose Brave New Films is distributing the movie in theaters, on its Web site and through so-called house parties. "And I was able to understand the larger implications, which is how corporations get in and buy politicians, DeLay today and someone else tomorrow." The Big Buy is the first movie he's distributing he did not direct; he likes to call it the "gift" he didn't know he was looking for when he picked it up last December.

Whatever becomes of DeLay, the movie will chase him in the near future --through courthouses, through the media, through anything he does till he's either vindicated or convicted or merely forgotten.

Jim Schermbeck and Mike Birnbaum expected the film to sit on their shelves collecting dust.
Mike Simmons
Jim Schermbeck and Mike Birnbaum expected the film to sit on their shelves collecting dust.

"Whatever happens now, the guy will never get back to the position of power that he was in," Schermbeck says. "That fall is complete, regardless of how the trial comes out, and you can kind of see that, even way back in October when he got indicted. You can kind of see where this was headed, and we knew we had to talk more than just about DeLay. We had to talk about the culture that he created on Capitol Hill and that whole kind of system of his..."

"The house that Tom built," says Birnbaum.

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