Evil Empire

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The whole Reagan miniseries fiasco shows why the old Hollywood-network system cannot crash and burn fast enough. And not because of the movie's content, as bad and mean-spirited as it may be.

It is just stunning that network suits would dump something which was presumably exactly what they wanted. They knew the producers' track record, someone read the script. Yet as soon as the show emerges from the big media info-tainment bubble everyone scatters. Pathetic.

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  1. Of course the Soviet Union collapsed because communism is not sustainable. That they had problems long before Reagan’s policies could hardly suprise anyone who understands the nature of communism. It can’t NOT have problems. Reagan undoubtedly helped it fail faster because of his policies, and that should be no suprise either.

  2. The South will rise again.

  3. Joe-
    Who is trying to put Reagan on a coin?

  4. What’s funny about the Reagan squawk is that the line of how “they that live in sin shall die in sin” is one that so many of the die-hard Reaganites would agree with.
    So they object to putting words in Reagan’s mouth, but they (many of them) endorse the sentiment. Maybe they’re just mad that Ronnie didn’t actually say it…

  5. Jim Walsh –

    Anybody who ever paid any attention to the guy knew he wasn’t particulary religious. Did he do enough to manage and control AIDS? Obviously not. But the thought of him spouting scripture and calling himself the anti-Christ is such pathetically facile left-wing thumbsucking. It’s almost a parody of the left. The guy was never a regular church-goer until he moved to DC. It’s just historically false to portray him as some kind of bible-slapping fundie. He wasn’t. That’s a trite left-wing fantasy. I suspect the “suits” at CBS cancelled the show because they knew it was idiotic, not because it was unflattering.

  6. Actually, I think Reagan did contribute to the fall of the Soviet Union, but not the way his biggest supporters think. The most important things he did were to provide moral support for internal dissidents (especially Solidarity – go unions!), sign arms control deals with Gorbachev, and give the “tear down this wall” speech. The Soviet Union was brought down by the people of Eastern Europe, and Reagan’s efforts to stand with them, and alleviate the fear of war that made them identify with their oppressors, helped to create the atmosphere in which their little flickers caught fire. It’s funny, but the PR window dressing turned out to be the biggest arrow in the quiver!

    Which is exactly the opposite of the confrontation/rollback strategy that Reagan (and Perle, and Rusmfeld…) spent his adult life advocating. The Soviet Empire didn’t fall from the outside in, through a gradual war of attrition. One good kick brought down the whole rotten structure! Except our Barbarossa invoved Levis and washing machines, instead of panzers and dive bombers.

  7. “I’m sure Ed Gillespie was just as concerned about the ‘historical accuracy’ of DC 9/11.”

    And I’m sure the producers of the Reagans were just as concerned with talking to the people they’re portraying. What’s that, they weren’t? Oh, so this comparison doesn’t quite work I guess. Phooey.

  8. Everyone should stroll over to drudge’s place and read the script exerpts he has posted. From reading these (yes I realize that it is only a small portion, but I think that I can make a fairly valid impression when considered with the surrounding hype as well), two things came to mind. The first is that someone was truly attempting to smear the man. This movie looks like an attempt to dramatize all of the negative impressions and myths surrounding him, rather than make a historical account of what ACTUALLY happened. The second is that the dialog looks to be absolutely awful. It is quite possible that the thing is so bad on its merits as a film that it should have never see the light of day.

  9. I’m sure Ed Gillespie was just as concerned about the “historical accuracy” of DC 9/11.

  10. The essential word in the phrase “show business” is “business.” Thus the “network suits” (businessmen?) duck and cover when a show which seems entirely acceptable by L.A. standards leads a critical mass nationally to go ballistic. That’s not pathetic, that’s free enterprise.

    Listen, Hollywood is not about “art” (however defined), it’s about profitable mass entertainment. If those same network suits had sufficient reason to believe that a show devoted entirely to some guy smashing small rodents with a hammer would get a high enough rating with acceptably low negative fallout, “Hamster Splat!” would be on in prime-time, quickly followed by the competition with “Mouse Mashing!” and “Guinea Pig Goop!”

    And what, by the way, would be wrong with that from a libertarian perspective?

  11. Is the pre-view online anywhere? Or the final script?

  12. Drudge has played audio (and tonight “Hardball” played video) and the script doesn’t do it justice… the description “Nancy Dearest” is apt, it comes across like the defunct Comedy Central book “That’s My Bush!” but it’s supposed to be taken seriously.

  13. Drudge has played audio (and tonight “Hardball” played video) and the script doesn’t do it justice… the description “Nancy Dearest” is apt, it comes across like the defunct Comedy Central show “That’s My Bush!” but it’s supposed to be taken seriously.

  14. mean-spirited would be a 3-hour warhol styled shot of a vegetable (Squash, or perhaps a pumpkin) hooked up to an iv while loops of reagan’s greatest soundbites play in the background. people in hollywood don’t even know the meaning of the word.

    outside of inspiring some truly kickass american punk rock, i’m not quite sure what reagan did that was worthy of respect.

  15. Congratulations, dhex, you’re the winner of the 2003 “Transparent attempt to pick a fight award.”
    Your prize pack includes the latest obvious attempts vitriolic efforts from Coulter and Franken, as well as dinner for three with Donna Brazile and the ghost of Lee Atwater.

  16. DC 9/11 was quite historically accurate. Comparing that to The Reagans is like comparing Matthew Brady to Gone With The Wind. The trouble with DC 9/11 was it was incredibly boring. At least The Reagans sounds like it might have been fun.

  17. Clement,

    What would the ghost have for dinner? 🙂

    dhex,

    The biggest claim to fame is that Reagan supposedly spent the USSR into the ground; its a theory I’ve never really bought into.

  18. I look forward to seeing The Reagans at underground film festivals on a triple bill with that Todd Haynes Karen-Carpenter-with-Barbie-Dolls thing and The Day the Clown Cried.

  19. dhex,

    Oh yes, and he made Americans feel good about themselves again, or something like that.

  20. Yes, we figured that Jean. It’s just strange you want to publicly admit it.

  21. Since former Soviet Union officials have admitted they were overspent into submission, we now know that Jean Bart is to the left of the Politburo.

  22. yeah, i’m all about picking a fight. that’s me. fightpickorama.

    growing up in that era i got to sample a lot of the truly mean spirited – and often hilarious – art and political nastiness towards reagan. i can’t imagine a miniseries being anything more than slightly disrespectful. and he really did inspire quite a lot of good music, as did his thatcher equivalent in the uk.

  23. that is assuming of course that one doesn’t need every single lyric and note to be played and performed by people who conform to an ideological checklist.

  24. Attributing the collapse of Soviet communism to communism’s own failings, rather than to outside pressure, is “to the left of the politbureau?” Whatever, guy. I didn’t realize one’s place on the left-right spectrum was determined by the depth of one’s bow in front of an icon.

    You probably shouldn’t take advice on the fairness of a biography from people who are trying to put its subject on coins and statues.

  25. “That’s My Bush” was a classic. I have all the episodes on a single tape, recorded during an all-episode marathon that Comedy Central was kind enough to schedule after the end of the series. The Thought Police can have it when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

    The point of “That’s My Bush” was to make lovable a guy who routinely did dumb and horrible things as commander-in-chief. It succeeded. Mind you, this was all pre-9/11, when even the President’s supporters were grudgingly learning to live with the dufus figurehead image he had acquired, up to that time. Along the way, TMB made fun of a wide spectrum of targets, while frequently paying homage to older sitcoms and the conventions/cliches they established. It was conceptually layered, in much the same way as Parker & Stone’s other series, “South Park,” but with live action, main characters that were based on real public figures, and much less profanity. I doubt that we’ll see its like again for years, if not decades, which is why I’m keeping the tape, thank you.

    Remember when jut-jawed dramatic leading man Leslie Nielsen switched to comedy with “Naked Gun” and similar productions? He kept playing it straight, but the situation and everyone around him were changed to be absurd, so we laughed. Maybe “The Reagans” will have that same feel and be seen as an unintentional comedy classic — the kind of film that Ed Wood might have made, given a big budget. It is perhaps in fear of being embarrassed in that way, which made CBS pawn the miniseries off to its corporate sibling.

  26. Does anybody remember the late, great Phil Hartman’s tremendous bit on Saturday Night Live, where he plays RR as amiable dunce to the public, and evil scheming mastermind behind closed doors?* Streisand’s production seems to have been playing that straight!

    Kevin
    * http://snltranscripts.jt.org/86/86fmasterbrain.phtml

  27. Historical accuracy from Hollywood? Did anyone ever see “Patriot?” 🙂

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