Did CBS chairman Leslie Moonves cave in to political and economic pressure

when he canceled ‘The Reagans’ miniseries? The network honcho

vehemently rejects the suggestion, calling it an “absolute lie.”

“It was a moral decision, not an economic or a political one,” Moonves

stressed in an interview with Daily Variety. “And I don’t know how more plainly I

can state that.”

A network statement issued last week following the cancellation of the

controversial miniseries similarly insisted the decision had nothing

to do with the backlash from Reagan supporters.

“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.

The network admitted the production was biased.

Although the miniseries features impressive production

values and acting performances, and although the producers have sources to

verify each scene in the script, we believe it does not present a balanced

portrayal of the Reagans for CBS and its audience. Subsequent edits that we

considered did not address those concerns.

“Unfortunately, in this instance, some of the criticisms, although coming from obviously one political perspective, I felt were somewhat well-founded,” Moonves confessed to Daily Variety.

James Brolin, Judy Davis as Ronald and Nancy

Reagan in CBS miniseries

The miniseries, originally scheduled to air Nov. 16 and 18, will be shown

on CBS’ sister pay-cable network, Showtime.

“A free broadcast network, available to all over the public airwaves, has

different standards than media the public must pay to view,” last week’s CBS

statement pointed out. “We do, however, recognize and respect the

filmmakers’ 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.”

Daily Variety reported last week the TV movie’s director, Robert Allan

Ackerman, had quit because of many last-minute edits and alterations

demanded by CBS executives amid the escalating outcry.

Script excerpts published by the Drudge Report included scenes of Reagan cursing at

his staff and his wife slapping her daughter. 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 number of boycott campaigns were launched in response to leaks of the


Nancy Reagan issued a statement earlier this month to the Fox News

Channel saying, “The timing of [the miniseries] is absolutely staggering to me.

Obviously, it’s very hurtful.”

The 92-year-old former president is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Moonves told the trade journal the cancellation does not mean creative freedom will be stifled at the network, but pledged CBS would continue to pursue shows that “are on the edge, that create controversy.”

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