Neil Meron, Craig Zadan and Robert Allan Ackerman worked magic as the creative team behind the riveting and award winning biopic of Judy Garland which starred Judy Davis as the starcrossed entertainer. They reunited a few years ago to create a film of the life of Ronald and Nancy Reagan. If Les Moonves, CBS’ chief craven capitulator, had bothered to see the Garland film, he would’ve realized he was going to get a terrifically entertaining, but warts and all portrayal of the Reagans.
Instead, when the New York Times printed Grumbling Trickles Down From Reagan Biopic (10/20/03) 21st saying that Reaganites were not happy with the film (they hadn’t even seen it of course), Moonves got a bad case of hives. Before you knew it the director, Robert Allan Ackerman was out of the editing room and editors representing CBS corporate interests were installed to reedit (and sanitize) the film.
Moonves either decided that the film in any form had become too much of a hot potato; or that a reedit would not only bowdlerize the film, but would turn it into a complete mess. So he chose to air it on Showtime, where it will probaby be seen by 10% of those who would’ve seen it on CBS (Showtime has 14 potential viewers and CBS, 108 million!).
CBS has gone into hyper[spin]drive to explain away their surrender. Instead of noting the real motivation for their actions, tomorrow’s Times will provide this rationale in Shifting ‘Reagans’ to Cable Has CBS Facing New Critics :
CBS executives, who declined to be identified by name, denied that they were capitulating to pressure from Republicans and conservative groups in moving “The Reagans” to the pay cable channel Showtime, a sister network at Viacom. The decision, they argued, was instead “a moral call,” reached after concluding that the four-hour television movie carried a liberal political agenda and treated the Reagans unfairly.
Funny how craven cowardice can be transformed into “a moral call” in a single spin!