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CBS Caves Into Pressure

Conservatives were crowing last night and liberals cried censorship after CBS scrapped its controversial miniseries “The Reagans.”
Stung by a tidal wave of criticism from Ronald Reagan supporters and family members, the network finally threw in the towel yesterday.

CBS announced it would not show the Reagan biopic as scheduled during the November ratings sweeps – and was moving it instead to Showtime, the network’s little-watched pay cable channel.

Network honchos insisted they didn’t cave in to outraged Republicans who deemed the movie unfair to the former President – now tragically suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

But entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose husband, James Brolin, plays Reagan in the series, called it “a sad day for artistic freedom” and accused CBS of caving “to right-wing Republican pressure.”

“This is censorship, pure and simply,” Hollywood’s leading liberal lady said.

The network decision was greeted with glee by the Maryland lawyer who launched BoycottCBS.com, a Web site that led the charge to “stop the smear” of the Reagans.

“This is a great victory for all fair-minded Americans, and it is a wakeup call to the out-of-touch liberals in Hollywood,” Michael Paranzino said.

CBS, in announcing it would not air the series, insisted its decision was “based solely on our reaction to seeing the final film.”

“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,” CBS said in a statement.

CBS insiders said network chairman Leslie Moonves was dismayed that the movie lacked positive moments from Reagan’s presidency, such as his call to Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down that [Berlin] wall.”

Moonves also believed former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s portrayal by Judy Davis was over the top and that – given his ties to the Democratic Party – he would be unable to defend the series.

“We knew we had problems when we first saw it,” a CBS insider said. “The question of whether we pulled the thing came up long before we heard from the Republican National Committee.” The Reagans’ adopted son, right-wing radio jock Michael Reagan, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he saw eight minutes of the show and was “appalled.”

“I said to Nancy, ‘They don’t like Dad, but they hate you,'” he said.

The Reagans’ daughter, Patti Davis, applauded the show’s cancellation, writing on Time’s Web site, “To deliberately and calculatingly depict public people as shallow, intolerant, cold and inept, with no truths or facts to back up the portrayals, is nothing short of malevolent.”

Showtime, which like CBS is owned by Viacom, will pay its corporate cousin about $6 million for the film, which covers two-thirds of the $9 million cost.

In place of “The Reagans,” CBS is likely to run another movie or a rerun.

The network expects most of the advertisers – who paid up to $150,000 for each 30-second spot in “The Reagans” – to keep their commercials in the time periods on Nov. 16 and 18. Showtime said “The Reagans” will be shown sometime next year.
 

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