‘Reagans’ Pressure Shifts to Showtime

Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Now that Showtime has picked up “The Reagans” from CBS, the spotlight has moved to the pay-TV service to see how it will handle its broadcast.
The Republican National Committee is charging that the the program remains unbalanced-according to CBS’s own assessment. It is demanding Showtime ensure historical accuracy.
Gary Levine, executive VP, original programming, for Showtime Networks, said the network intends to make sure the miniseries is accurate but noted that the movie is not a documentary and said all docudramas take some dramatic license. “We will go through with the producers on the vetting process and their sources, and then get to a movie that they’re comfortable with and we’re comfortable with,” Mr. Levine said. The film will not be reshot, and he’s confident the filmmakers can produce such a film.
“I think that there will be documentation to support what happens in the movie, but in terms of fair, when you’re dealing with politics that’s entirely subjective,” he said. “It will come from factual sources and then the interpretation will be the filmmakers.”’
“One can argue about the point of view of the movie,” Mr. Levine added, “but one cannot argue with the quality of the filmmakers.”
Mr. Levine said he did not know exactly when the film would air, or whether it would air as a one-part movie or appear over two days.
Showtime has been involved with controversial projects before, Mr. Levine noted. It has aired films that others wouldn’t distribute, including “Lolita,” “The Believer” and “Bastard Out of Carolina.”
He’s hopeful the film won’t kick off a boycott. “We would hope (A), that they’d wait to see the movie in its entirety before condemning it, and (B), that people would look at the range of movies that Showtime offers and the different points of view that we bring and feel comfortable that no one side is getting picked on,” Mr. Levine said.
He said he has seen the film. “Judy Davis and James Brolin give really interesting performances. We thought it was a very nice movie,” he said.
While not speculating on whether Showtime would have put this script into development or given it a green light, he said, “At this point in time, with these people involved, with this piece of film and these circumstances, it makes sense for us.”
Showtime has announced that it plans to hold an on-air forum after the movie runs to express various points of view about its authenticity.
Doug Halonen contributed to this story.