After a flood of headlines over the past week, Showtime has officially acquired the rights to The Reagans from sister Viacom Inc. network CBS, and it will air the controversial miniseries sometime next year.
The Sony Pictures Television project, starring James Brolin and Judy Davis as Ronald and Nancy Reagan, was scheduled to air on CBS Nov. 16 and 18.
Showtime executives said the pay network will work with director Robert Allan Ackerman (Showtime’s Tennessee Williams’ The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone) and producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Chicago) to create a final product that will be of the quality its subscribers have come to expect from the premium service.
In a prepared statement, CBS said that even though the film has 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."
The statement continued, "A free broadcast network, available to all over-the-public airwaves, has different standards than media the public must pay to view. We do, however, recognize and respect the filmmakers’ right to have their voice heard and their film seen."
Showtime has aired its share of controversial fare in the past, including: DC 9/11: Time of Crisis, a look at President Bush and his leadership following the terrorist attacks; Bastard Out of Carolina, a film about child abuse; and Dirty Pictures, an exploration of First Amendment rights.