By now, the scene has become familiar: A sullied governor stands in a room packed with reporters and somber advisers to announce his resignation.
His wife stands next to him, looking as if she could use a gubernatorial pardon for what she would like to do him. The governor contritely confesses an affair.
In the case of former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, the affair was with a man, as he famously announced, “I am a gay American.” His resignation was also his coming out.
Alexandra Pelosi’s “Fall to Grace,” airing on HBO Thursday, March 28, focuses on McGreevey today as he helps women in prison and goes about his life.
Pelosi doesn’t bother with the particulars of the legal and ethics violations that dogged McGreevey; he had appointed his lover to an important government position.
“It just got complicated and boring,” she tells Zap2it of trying to detail the nepotism allegations in a 46-minute film. “The biggest problem with TV or a documentary is people have a limited diet for information.
“All politicians have a shelf life; either they lose an election or someone pushes them out,” Pelosi continues. “I am fascinated about what happens after they peak.”
Pelosi recalls reading about McGreevey’s political debacle in the tabloids. When she told him that she wanted to make a documentary about him, McGreevey said “no.” She did so anyway, accompanying him on rounds at a women’s prison, where he counsels inmates, befriends them and prays with them. He also helps them after parole.
“I had only a hand-held camera,” Pelosi says. “I stole this documentary. He never gave me permission.”
She entered it in Sundance and eventually secured his permission. There are no interviews with McGreevey’s daughters, who were off limits, or his former wives.
What does come across is a man who seems fully committed to helping others and is in a committed relationship.
“The moral of the Jim McGreevey story is we cannot let our worst day define us,” Pelosi says, quoting the former governor.