EXCLUSIVE: Sarah Paulson and Peter MacNicol are set to co-star in the HBO film Game Change, produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone. The movie, directed by Jay Roach and written by Danny Strong, follows John McCain’s (Ed Harris) 2008 presidential campaign, from his selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) as his running mate to their ultimate defeat in the general election. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip alumna Paulson will play McCain’s senior campaign adviser Nicolle Wallace, described as attractive, wholesome, California-bred, smart, focused and an ambitious political writer and communications chief who worked for Jeb Bush and then McCain. Ally McBeal alum MacNicol will play McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis, who oversaw the development and implementation of all campaign strategy and policy development.¬† Also cast in the film is Justin Gaston as Levi Johnston, who fathered the baby of Palin’s teenage daughter Bristol (Melissa Farman). ICM-repped Paulson stars in Kari Lizer’s comedy pilot for NBC as well as in the Sundance film Martha Marcy May Marlene, which has been picked up by Fox Searchlight for a release later this year and is now heading to Cannes. Emmy winner MacNicol has been recurring on Grey’s Anatomy. Gaston, repped by CAA and the Hofflund Co., next co-stars in the indie The Escapee.

Meanwhile, HBO today released to the press the first image of Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin. At first glance, she gives Tina Fey a run for her money in the Palin look-alike contest.