Showtime to Air 'The Reagans' on Nov. 30
Showtime to Air 'The Reagans,' the Made-For-TV Movie Scuttled by CBS, on November 30
The Associated Press
NEW YORK Nov. 17 — Showtime will air "The Reagans," the made-for-TV movie that CBS scuttled, on Nov. 30.
The cable channel's announcement Monday was unexpected, since it had originally planned to air the movie next year.
"We just thought it didn't make sense to prolong this and bring it on next year," said Robert Greenblatt, Showtime entertainment president. "I'm just tired of people making judgments on this when they haven't seen it. Let them see it."
Fans of the former president, accusing CBS of distorting Ronald Reagan's legacy while he's sick with Alzheimer's disease, had mounted a furious protest. CBS denied it was bowing to pressure in handing off the project to Showtime, but said producers made a film that crossed the line into advocacy.
Greenblatt said the movie, which was to air over two prime-time nights on CBS, would be shown commercial-free in one sitting at 8 p.m. EST the Sunday after Thanksgiving and would last about three hours. Showtime will air a panel discussion about the movie with people familiar with Reagan's presidency the following night.
Michael Paranzino, who set up the Web site boycottcbs.com to fight the TV movie on CBS, said it might be harder to persuade Showtime to change its mind because it is smaller. Showtime is seen in just under 15 million homes; CBS is in 108 million.
"I think that Showtime realized they have a turkey on their hands and turkeys don't last much beyond Thanksgiving," said Paranzino, a government affairs consultant from Maryland. "I'm disappointed that they reversed their promise to take a fresh look and not air it until 2004."
He said he'll try to make people who were upset about the movie aware of Showtime's plans but he won't be watching.
"I've never had Showtime because I never had a strong interest in watching `Porky's Revenge' at 3:30 in the morning," Paranzino said.
Greenblatt said the movie will appear pretty much the way the filmmakers made it.
Left out, however, will be a scene about AIDS that was the focus of controversy when a version of the screenplay was leaked. Reagan had been depicted as uncaring and judgmental toward people with AIDS.
"I think this is as balanced and honest a movie as can be made out of this movie," Greenblatt said. "We're never going to please the people who are on the extreme right side of the argument and there are people who are the left side of the argument who will think we didn't go far enough."
CBS had believed that producers were making a love story about Ronald and Nancy Reagan, with politics as a backdrop. But CBS was angered about a tone that appeared too strident.
The movie's producers, Crag Zadan and Neil Meron, said they are "pleased that our final version of the movie will be presented. We are proud to live in a country where everyone, including artists and writers, has the right of free speech."