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Reagan mini-series stirs controversy before it airs
( 2003-10-22 10:25) (Agencies)

An article in Tuesday's New York Times reported that family members and close associates of the former president -- who now suffers from Alzheimer's disease -- have already begun stewing about "The Reagans," a two-part series set to air on CBS Nov. 16 and 18.

"I fully expect this mini-series will be largely unfavorable to my dad," the Times quoted Michael Reagan, a radio talk show host, as writing in an online column.

Much of the concern centers on the fact that lead actors James Brolin and Judy Davis, who play Ronald and Nancy Reagan, and series producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan have all openly acknowledged their left-leaning political views, according to the Times.

That has fueled fear that CBS' version of the Reagans' story will be told through a liberal filter -- and thus offer a skewed portrayal of the popular former president.

"It sure makes me suspicious," Reagan speechwriter Peter Robinson told Fox News. "With James Brolin as Ronald Reagan, something is definitely up."

Robinson, author of "How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life," admitted that he hadn't seen the mini-series or read the script -- but he didn't get a good feeling about it from the Times article and other reports.

"It sounds to me as though this script takes this idea that the man is tremendously appealing personally, that he's gifted with words, but that there's nothing in his head and he just somehow lucks into all the accomplishments of his presidency," Robinson said on Fox. "That's a preposterous notion."

The Times, which did obtain the final version of the script for its article, reported that the mini-series does credit Reagan with ending the cold war and portrays him as a savvy politician and a moral man.

But the film doesn't discuss the economic recovery, creation of jobs and improvement of morale that he and his supporters believe were his greatest achievements as president, according to the Times.

Additionally, some of the depictions of President and Mrs. Reagan are unflattering -- like his alleged disdain for AIDS and gays, and his hazy memory, the Times reported.

"They simply want to belittle the man," Robinson said. "It's just outrageous."

Producer Meron defended the film.

"This is not a vendetta, this is not revenge," he told the Times. "It is about telling a good story in our honest sort of way. We all believe it's a story that should be told."

Ronald Reagan's biographer, Edmund Morris -- who wrote the authorized biography "Dutch" -- said he was worried the TV movie would be slanted but added that it could serve to balance out the almost cult-like status Reagan has garnered since leaving office.

"The provenance of the movie makes me suspect it will not be fair," Morris told the Times. "The best thing one can say about a movie of this kind is it does redress or counteract the sentimentalities that are being perpetrated all of the time in his name by his fanatical followers."

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