CBS Replaces The Reagans 

Updated 11-07-03 Keavin
The controversial mini-series The Reagans has been pulled by CBS. The two part movie was scheduled to air on Nov. 16 and 18, but executives at the eye network canceled the movie after a barrage of negative press that questioned the film’s authenticity. 

CBS has now filled the void left by the mini-series, which will now be aired on Showtime. On Sunday, Nov. 16, CBS will re-air the two-part episode of"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation from 9-11" at 8 p.m. On Tuesday, Nov. 18, the network will run reruns of "CSI: Miami" and "Without a Trace".

As previous reported, CBS pulled the plug on the Reagans after snippets of the script leaked out and friends and supporters of President Reagan cried foul that the movie appeared to inaccurately portray the 40th President and First Lady Nancy Reagan. 

A network executive speaking anonymously told the Associated Press that CBS believed they had ordered a film based on the love story between President Ronald Reagan and Nancy with politics as a backdrop but the instead they received a film that “crossed the line into advocacy.” 

"Although the mini-series features impressive production values and acting performances…We believe it does not present a balanced portrayal of the Reagans for CBS and its audience," the network said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The network reportedly had attempted to re-edit the film and remove questionable passages but ultimately gave up. CBS said they decided to cancel the movie "based solely on our reaction to seeing the final film, not the controversy that erupted around a draft of the script." 

The accuracy of the movie came into question when the New York Times published an excerpt from the script that portrayed President Reagan as being uncaring towards those who suffered from AIDS, according to that report the scene has Nancy Reagan pleading with her husband to help AIDS victims and the scripted response was, "They that live in sin shall die in sin". A quote that many Reagan supporters have said was wholly untrue, unsubstantiated and does not appear anywhere in the public record and is in the polar opposite of the man they knew. 

The screenwriter of the film, Elizabeth Egloff, conceded that she made-up the quote for the movie. 

Ed Rollins, former Reagan campaign manager told Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hard Ball, “He, like everybody else in the White House, were very concerned about AIDS. It was in its infancy and very few people knew a whole lot about it. We did whatever we could to find it early on. And there’s this great myth that he didn’t care about it. He cared very deeply about it, and many of his friends in the art world and the Hollywood world were the first victims of it.” 

The irony is that very few people have seen the movie but cried foul based on that passage and the fact that James Brolin was hired to play Reagan, since he is the husband of outspoken liberal activist Barbra Streisand. Casting Brolin in the role was sure to draw criticism and call into question the “agenda” behind the film. It was like casting Rush Limbaugh to play Bill Clinton in a film, it was sure to be a lightning-rod and open the door to criticism. 

Adding more fuel to the fire, the Drudge Report reportedly got a hold of at least part of the film and Matt Drudge claims that the movie has President Reagan proclaiming himself to be the anti-Christ. Drudge quoted the following dialog, which supposedly came from the film, "The Leader from the West will be revealed as the anti-Christ, and then God will strike him down. That's me. I am the anti-Christ." 

The producers of the film Neil Meron and Craig Zadan claim to have double checked their facts with former administration officials but according to former Reagan senior policy aid Martin Anderson, who still maintains a close relationship with the family, he can find no evidence that the producer spoke to any members of the Reagan “inner-circle”, and in-fact none of the noted Presidential biographers were consulted. Anderson denounced the film as a "vicious hit piece." 

Michael Reagan, son of the President, previewed 8-minutes of excerpts from the film and said "It's horrendous, it's absolutely horrendous," in it’s portrayal of his father which is said to have President Reagan using foul language. 

"They also have my dad taking God's name in vain in an angry, angry way. ... They have him calling another person in anger an S.O.B." 

"I've never seen my Dad that angry and I've never heard him use the 'G-D' word in my life," Michael said on Sean Hannity’s syndicated radio talk show. 
"They dislike my father, and you can see that," he said. "They actually infer that Alzheimer's was setting in at the time the whole thing was going on with Ollie North and Iran-Contra - which is absurd." 

Reagan announced that he was suffering from the disease in late 1994. 

Reagan biographer Lou Cannon said of the excerpts of the script he has read, "They have put words in Reagan's mouth that he would never have uttered. Reagan simply didn't talk like that." 

A fervor has erupted on the left following CBS decision to cancel the movie. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) said the CBS move "smells of intimidation to me." Referring to the controversy stirred by supporters of President Reagan, which went as far as calling for boycotts of CBS and the advertising sponsors of the mini-series. 

"They made a business decision," CNN quoted Jeff Chester, the head of the Center for Digital Democracy, a communications lobbying group. "In doing so, they clearly caved in to the political pressure." 

Also quoted in the CNN report, Robert Thompson, who heads the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University said that CBS pulling the mini-series "gives new hope to all of the people who don't like what they see on entertainment television. ..All of the special interest groups can say, 'look, we got the Reagan docudrama off the air. What's next?"