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A Wings fan in Wasilla?

If you’ve ever worked on a film set, you know that nothing happens by accident — at least in front of the camera. Every prop, from throw pillows on the sofa to the painting hanging on the wall behind the actors, is vetted, to use a word from contemporary politics. To not do so is to invite legal claims later that can derail your production, as the artist or company that created it claims he or it never gave permission for the work to be used (although now that it’s there, they’re open to discussing a small stipend). And most moviegoers know about product placement, about why a film’s players drink only Pepsi products or how that scene happened to be shot at McDonald’s.

In HBO’s film adaptation of “Game Change,” John Heilemann’s and Mark Halperin’s account of the 2008 presidential election, the most famous hockey mom in America is seen wearing lots of lipstick — and a few jerseys from the NHL. In one pivotal scene, in which Julianne Moore-as-Sarah-Palin shakes off a slump and shows she is, indeed, the greatest political actress in America by nailing her debate prep rehearsal under the trees at John McCain’s Arizona estate, Palin wears a jersey with the most familiar logo in the National Hockey League — the winged wheel of the Detroit Red Wings.

In a reverse shot, we see the number 40, but not the name of Henrik Zetterberg, who wears it. Zetterberg, a Swede, would appear to have little reason to be beloved by Palin, considering he hails from a country with such a stoutly woven safety net it’s regularly described as socialist. (It’s not.) He no doubt has a lot in common with Palin, what with living in a place where the sun isn’t seen for months on end. (We’re talking about Michigan, yes.)

A call to the Red Wings yielded a collective shrug and a boot to the NHL, where the contact person’s voice-mail message reported she was on maternity leave and wouldn’t be returning calls. Another hockey mom a-borning!

It would appear sometimes a jersey is just a jersey — or that the director of photography thought his leading lady would look good in red.

1 comment from a Bridge reader.Add mine!

  1. John C.

    You put me in mind of another mysterious appearance of the Winged Wheel. In one of the all-time great Chicago movies – a love letter to the city, if you will – Cameron follows Ferris around all day wearing a Gordie Howe sweater. I wondered about that even before I moved to Chicago!

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