As more Reagan supporters begin mounting boycott efforts, CBS President and CEO Les Moonves says the network is adjusting the script of its upcoming miniseries on the former president and his wife to present a more balanced view.
In an interview with Tina Brown to be broadcast tonight on CNBC, Moonves said criticism of a film nobody has seen is “rather odd.” But in an apparent response to growing criticism generated by publishing of script excerpts by the DrudgeReport and the New York Times, he indicated changes would be made.
“We’ve looked at the rough cut, there are things we like … there are things we don’t like … there are things we think go too far,” he told Brown, according to the New York Post. “So there are some edits being made trying to present a more fair picture of the Reagans.”
The miniseries, set for airing Nov. 16 and 18, includes scenes of Reagan cursing at his staff and his wife slapping her daughter, according to the script excerpts.
Other scenes show the former president declaring he is the anti-Christ and, in response to AIDS, stating, “They that live in sin shall die in sin” – though there is no record of him saying such things.
A former chief of staff to a U.S. congressman has teamed with colleagues to set up a website urging television viewers not to watch the two-part series and to boycott its advertisers for 30 days during the peak of the holiday shopping season. [Editor’s note: Since the posting of this story, the Boycott CBS site has become inaccessible due to a system overload. A new site, with the same address, is expected to be running by Friday.]
Meanwhile, Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, sent a letter to the top 100 corporate advertisers in the U.S. yesterday, urging them not to support the production.
“The miniseries has blatantly distorted history and is nothing more than a partisan political attack against one of America’s most beloved presidents,” Bozell wrote. “New York Times reporter Jim Rutenberg, one of the few people outside of CBS who has read the script, noted that the miniseries completely omitted the unprecedented economic expansion of the 1980s. That glaring oversight is not nearly as unfair, however, as the historical fictions that have been added to make the program more dramatic.”
Bozell said the picture of Reagan as a hateful religious zealot is completely unfounded, noting biographer Lou Cannon “has flatly stated that the depiction is unfair, telling Rutenberg in no uncertain terms that ‘Reagan is not intolerant.'”
Other protest campaigns include grass-roots efforts with online petitions such as NoMoreCBS.com, Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood and “Boycott of ‘The Reagans,’” which had 599 signatures at press time.
The series will be distributed internationally by Hallmark Entertainment Distribution, a subsidiary of Kansas City, Mo.-based Hallmark Cards Inc.
Hallmark Entertainment spokeswoman Beth Nussbaum told WorldNetDaily, however, her company was not involved in the production of “The Reagans” and is not a sponsor of the program.
“By virtue of its international distribution network, we distribute many films to international audiences, and this movie is one of those,” she said.
“People should relate their concerns to CBS,” she emphasized. “We had nothing to do with the content.”
In a news release issued in August, Hallmark Entertainment Distribution described the miniseries this way:
First Family: The Reagans – From the bright lights of tinsel town to the Oval Office and the U.S. presidency this true story follows Ronald Reagan’s (Emmy and Golden Globe winner James Brolin) rise to notoriety, celebrity and world power. The four-hour dramatic miniseries chronicles Reagan’s years as a Hollywood movie star, his marriage to his devoted wife Nancy (played by Emmy and Golden Globe winner Judy Davis), his tumultuous role as a father of two, and the political controversies that plunged him into the darkest chapter of his presidential life.
Sponsors of the program have not been announced and might remain unknown or undetermined until just prior to its airing. Some boycotters are targeting advertisers for other CBS programs.
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