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November 6, 2003
By Jon Christian
Copyright 2003 - All Rights Reserved
To distribute this article, please post this web address or hyperlink
cyber-news snoop Matt Drudge snagged a copy of the script of the fictional
CBS miniseries The Reagans (that was to be presented by CBS
as an accurate, factually-supported but not publicly-known history of
the Reagan years), conservatives nationwide were up-in-arms at the portrayal
of President Ronald Reagan as an uncaring bigot, and First Lady
Nancy Reagan as a shrew.
CBS executives, who read and approved the
script for the two-part, 4-hour mini-series (and were present during much
of the shooting of the project), were pleased with their film and planned
to air it during Sweeps Week, on Sunday, Nov. 16 and Tuesday, Nov 18,
believing the docudrama would give them a ratings boost that would likewise
boost the price they could ask for a 30-second commercial for the next
6 months. Hallmark Entertainment Distribution, a subsidiary of Kansas
City, Missouri-based Hallmark Cards had already signed on to distribute
the project internationally and also captured broadcast rights for the
Hallmark Channel. Key advertisers like Gillette, Blockbuster Video and
Ericcson had happily signed on to the project since everyone was convinced
The Reagans would be a ratings grabber.
There was only one thing wrong with the
project--it was pure liberal bunk with just enough historic fact to glue
the storyline together.
When CBS Chairman Les Moonves gave the nod
to the studio to release the first publicity snippets of The Reagans
to the media, the PR Department at CBS chose leftist New York Times columnist
Jim Rutenberg as their conduit to the small screen audience.
Rutenberg, who is something of a history buff in his own right, immediately
noticed the slant of the script, and the fact that it offered
an extremely twisted view of history. He commented in his review that
script completely skipped the economic recovery of the 1980s that led
to the largest expansion of the American economy in the history of the
country. Even worse, Rutenberg noted, the writers and producers added
events to the historic record that simply never happened, and colored
those fictional events with conversations and language between Reagan
and others that were not part of the Reagan personae and, according to
those who knew him best, did not occur.
As the myriad of historic discrepancies
were pointed out by Rutenberg and Matt Drudge, the mainstream media grudgingly
covered the story but no references were made to the writer or writers
who wrote the screenplay, the producers who funded the project, or the
person or people who developed the project in the first place and presented
the distorted idea to CBS.
And that cast of characters is every bit
as important as the fact that starring in the docudrama was the husband
of conservative-hating Barbra Streisand--James Brolin. Brolin is a has-been
TV actor who hasnt had a steady job
since he co-starred with veteran movie and TV actor Robert Young on the
70s hit TV series, Marcus Welby, MD.
While no one is talking, least of all Babs
Streisand, this one has all the earmarks of a Streisand production.
When she was interviewed by Rutenberg, the
playwright--Elizabeth Egloff--admitted she wrote the final version
of the screenplay. What is most interesting is that the media wrote over
100 news articles--both pro and con--about the script for The Reagans,
but even though all of the criticism was directed at the anti-Reagan bias
in the script, not one of the myriad of articles mentioned the name of
the playwright, or the fact that Egloff is as far to the left as Babs
Streisand. Nor did the media mention that Egloff, who is an award winning
playwright, has received grants from the extremely liberal Pew Foundation
and from the National Endowment for the Arts--both of which have an anti-conservative
even more important, no one in the mainstream media asked Streisands
involvement in the project after it was revealed that the producers
of the project were close friends of Streisands--Neal Meron and
Craig Zadan. In fact, Meron and Zadan have collaborated with Babs on another
Streisand project in which they served as producers. In 1995
Babs recruited Zadan and Meron to produce a movie that starred Glenn Close
as a lesbian military nurse who comes out of the closet to defy the homophobes
in the Pentagon. The film was The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story.
Im sure you remember it. It played in a couple of gay theatres and
went straight (pardon the pun) to video--all in about a blink of the eye.
What that piece of cinema magic did not
do was bad-mouth the lesbian. Perverted lifestyle and all, Cammermeyer
was depicted as a heroine.
Reagan, on the other hand, was portrayed
in Egloffs script as an apathetic bigot. In one scene in the fictional
film posing as truth, the discussion is centered on the AIDS epidemic.
Reagan casually asserts that those with AIDS deserve their disease, saying
that ...they that live in sin shall die in sin. And, in the
Egloff script, he refused to discuss the issue any farther. Two points
need to be stressed.
First, another thing that the mainstream
media failed to mention about Babs Streisands handpicked producers
for The Reagans is that they are both very aggressive homosexual
activists. Zadan and Meron will be honored by the Hollywood homosexual
crowd in March, 2004 at the Building Equity Dinner sponsored
by the gay lobby, Human Rights Campaign.
Second, you will recall during the Reagan
years that homosexual activists accused Reagan of deliberately denying
AIDS researchers the funds they needed to perfect the AIDS vaccine that
the homosexual community was convinced was just around the corner. The
homosexual community accused Reagan of being unsympathetic to their dilemma
because --they said--he believed they brought their plight upon themselves.
What showed up in Egloffs script as fact were Zadan
and Merons personal opinions of what they thought Reagan believed.
That is bias.
Third (even though I was only going to make
two points), you will recall that Egloff told Rutenberg she was hired
to write the final version of the screenplay. Her statement to the New
York Times suggests that someone else wrote a first draft, or at least
an outline and synopsis that would become the basis for the final version.
Who? Streisand, perhaps?
In her interview with Rutenberg, Egloff
said that the dialogue was factual if not completely accurate. She pointed
out that in the book, Dutch, a highly disputed, unauthorized
biography of Reagan by Edmund Morris, the author wrote that Reagan once
said of AIDS: Maybe the Lord brought down this plague [because]
illicit sex is against the ten commandments.
We know [Reagan] ducked the issue
over and over again, Egloff told Rutenberg, and we know [Nancy]
was the one who got him to deal with it. She added that several
of the biographies she had reviewed in writing her screenplay suggested
that Reagan had trouble squaring homosexuality with the Bible. Egloff
added that while there was no evidence that such a conversation actually
took place, there was likewise no evidence to suggest that one did not,
either. (One wonders if all of the biographies of Reagan that Egloff used
as references were all written by Reagans detractors?)
Zadan and Meron, whose own personal views
of Reagans opinion are depicted in that particular conversation
insisted to reporters that no major event was depicted without at least
two confirming sources, even though they admitted that they took a lot
of dramatic liberty in some spots. In defense of their liberal revisionism,
they interjected defensively that the film was approved by CBS lawyers
and Sony Pictures Television. I guess that makes it okay. And, in the
AIDS dialogue, its likely the two confirming sources were Zadan as one
and Meron as the other. Speaking about the dialogue liberties, Zadan said
things werent painted in black and white, but in blacks, whites
and grays--many variations of gray.
When the Drudge Report printed some of the
script, the proverbial brown stuff hit the fan in Conservativetown, USA.
Following Drudge was WorldNetDaily and Newsmax.com--and then every small
conservative news and opinion site on the Net. America was mad--and not
just the right-wingers. Thousands of working class Democrats--those who
are commonly called the Reagan Democrats--were as much up-in-arms
as their more conservative counterparts from other side of the great political
As the flap began, CBS chief Moonves commented
to the media types who were causing his phone to ring that he thought
it was odd that he was being stung with criticism of a film that nobody
had seen, adding that Weve looked at the rough cut. There
are things we like...there are things we dont like...there are things
we think go too far...so there are some edits being made trying to present
a more fair picture of the Reagans.
Overnight several boycott CBS websites popped
up. Among them were NoMoreCBS.com, PatrioticAmericansBoycottingAnti-American
Hollywood.com, BoycottOfTheReagans.com, and the most organized
and economically-influential site, DefendReagan.org,that
was originated by the California businessman who financed the successful
recall of Gov. Gray Davis--Howard Kaloogian. DefendReagan.org
leapfrogged to one of the top 5% websites on the Internet in terms of
hits within three days. Kaloogian coughed up $200 thousand of his own
bankroll for ads in TV Guide and USA Today that were going to ask major
CBS advertisers to drop their advertising from that specific program--and
apply pressure on CBS, as a news organization, to present a more balanced
presentation in its production of The Reagans. Joining Kaloogian
was Mike Paranzino, a former chief of staff to a U.S. Congressman. Paranzino
teamed up with several of his colleagues to urge people not to watch the
two-part mini-series and to boycott any advertisers on the program for
a period of 30-days during the peak Christmas shopping season.
Kaloogian told his supporters that ...we
are going to make sure that when and if this anti-Reagan miniseries airs
that there is a rebuttal that speaks the truth about Ronald
Reagans accomplishments and points out the lies, smears and distortions
that CBS has engaged in.
Within days of the launch of his campaign,
Kaloogian reported that the advertisers who had purchased time on The
Reagans, were all frantically scurrying for cover. Ericsson,
Gillette and Blockbuster were taken from Kaloogians boycott list
when they pulled their advertising from CBS. This shows you the
strong emotions people feel towards the smear campaign CBS is waging against
President Ronald Reagan.
Had Kaloogian not recently dethroned a sitting
governor and single-handedly had him removed from office, the barons of
business might not have paid too much attention to him. But Kaloogian
is a man who has proven, in the trenches, that he can make terrible things
happen to those who underestimate his ability to make things happen.
But no one was more shocked than the Hollywood
crowd--especially Babs and Jim. Melanie McFarland, the TV critic for the
Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote: Because of a barrage of pressure
from conservative critics who have accused CBS of distorting Reagans
legacy without actually seeing The Reagans, the network yesterday
yanked the miniseries and shuffled it off to premium cable channel Showtime,
which like CBS, is owned by Viacom.
This decision is based solely
on our reaction to seeing the final film, not the controversy that erupted
around a draft of the script, CBS said in a statement. Although
the miniseries features impressive production values and acting performances,
and although the producers have a source to verify each scene in the script,
we believe it does not present a balanced portrayal of the Reagans for
CBS and its audience. (The balance of Moonves statement was: Subsequent
edits that we considered did not address those concerns. A free broadcast
network, available to the public airwaves, has different standards than
media the public must pay to view. We do, however, recognize and respect
the film makers right to have their voice heard and their film seen.
As such, we have reached an agreement to license the exhibition rights
for the film to Showtime, a subscriber-based, pay-cable network. We believe
this is a solution that benefits everyone involved.)
Way to set a precedent, CBS Chairman
Les Moonves, McFarland continued. Lets all remember
this when the next unflattering flick about the Kennedys or, better yet,
an epic made-for the Clintons comes out. If you have enough money and
clout to mount a campaign of reckless fear mongering, then you, too, can
censor the airwaves...
When CBS initiated this project early this
year and signed on James Brolin to play the lead, it promised the press
conference that launched the project that the mini-series would be meticulously
researched. The last meticulously researched Reagan
piece was done in 2001. It was a Showtime fabrication called The
Day Reagan Was Shot. The movie was denounced by Reagans first
National Security Advisor, Richard Allen as invented history.
CBS, which should have learned by this time
not to get involved in any project that has Barbra Streisands scent
on it, knew there would be a tremendous cost paid by them in terms of
lost advertising revenue--and lost viewers--if they aired The Reagans.
CBS, over the past half dozen years has managed to do the impossible for
a network that was labeled the most liberal traditional Earth-based news
network only six years ago. Through its entertainment programming division,
CBS captured the lions share of the family viewing audience from
competitors ABC, NBC and FOX (which, while Foxs news division has
captured the conservative audience, its entertainment division caters
to ethnic minorities and children of all races). CBS knows a viewer boycott
at this time would be devastating to its ratings--and its commercial rates.
It cant afford to alienate an audience it has taken the network
a half dozen years to cultivate.
But the solution is not to transfer its
travesty to its pay-for-view cousin. CBS, which approved the original
script for The Reagans knows The Reagans was nothing
more than a loosely disguised far-left hatchet job that was engineered
by Babs, using the award-winning writing talent of a feminist activist,
Elizabeth Egloff, and the hate of homosexual activists Zadan and Meron
to paint Reagan as a modern day Simon Legree and Nancy Reagan as Mommy
Dearest. One imagines that if it had been Moonves sole decision,
The Reagans would have been shelved for the next 10 to 20
years or so for some other CBS head somewhere down the road to pull it
out of mothballs during a more friendly socialist era when capitalism
and communism are finally merged in the third way global society
of the New World Order.
But, The Reagans cost CBS $12
million. Throwing that money away out of ethical decency just isnt
in CBS. By transferring the film to another Viacom subsidiary, Showtime,
the network hopes to recoup some of its losses, and by selling the rights
to European movie outlets, CBS expects to break even and perhaps even
make a few bucks on the deal. At least at Showtime, The Reagans
is out of reach of the boycott CBS crowd--or so Moonves thinks.
To minimize blowback from the American public--which
largely views Ronald Wilson Reagan as the most admired president of the
20th century and one of the best presidents in the history of the United
States, Moonves is continuing to edit out more of the Zadan-Meron-Egloff
fiction that was designed to make Reagan look small and spiteful, and
somehow give it a semblance of the balance their initial hype
said existed in the movie.
As CBS got out the blue pencil, the liberals
--from director Robert Allen Ackerman to Zadan and Meron to Egloff--just
got out. They resigned in disgust. Their picture of Reagan as a hateful
religious zealot who cries out that he is Antichrist is now on the cutting
room floor. It is unclear what picture of the 40th President of the United
States has emerged. But it is a safe bet that unless CBS plans to go back
to scratch with a team of historians and not political activists,
The Reagans will still be a hatchet job on a great man who
cannot speak out in his own defense. And for that, CBS must still be held