CBS reportedly has decided not to air a movie about Ronald Reagan, opting instead to move it to Showtime on cable.
HOLLYWOOD TRADE paper Daily Variety reported that CBS chief Les Mooves decided that the movie starring James Brolin, which was slated to air Nov. 16 and 18, was not appropriate for the network to air. Variety says an official announcement from the network is expected as early as Tuesday.
The network came under heavy criticism from political conservatives that the two-part series unfairly depicts Reagan and his wife, Nancy.
On Monday, Variety reported that director Robert Allan Ackerman has quit the production over creative differences with CBS executives who insisted on numerous last-minute alterations.
Neither producers for the four-hour film nor Ackerman could immediately be reached for comment.
But sources familiar with the production said that last-minute changes demanded by CBS.
The manager for actor James Brolin, who stars as Reagan in the film, said his client was refraining from taking part in promoting the miniseries at this point.
IN THE DARK
"We don't know what movie they're putting out there or when or what they're doing with it," Jeff Wald told Reuters, adding that Ackerman was not participating in editing the final cut.
Wald described executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, whose credits include the hit film musical "Chicago," as "absolutely dismayed" by the sight-unseen backlash.
He dismissed criticism from some that the miniseries is a "hatchet job" and denied that the filmmakers had any agenda in portraying Reagan other than to make a "fair and balanced movie about who he was, positive and negative."
While the Viacom-owned network had no comment Monday, Moonves told CNBC last week that "there are some edits being made trying to present a more fair picture of the Reagans."
The only comment from the Reagans themselves has come from former first lady Nancy Reagan, who in a brief statement issued last week to the Fox News Channel said, "The timing of (the miniseries) is absolutely staggering to me. Obviously, it's very hurtful." She apparently was referring to the fact that the 92-year-old former president is severely ill with Alzheimer's disease.
The furor over the miniseries arose after the New York Times reported last month that the film portrays the Reagans in a largely unflattering light. In one scene, Reagan says of AIDS patients, "They that live in sin shall die in sin." But there is no evidence he ever expressed those views.
Some Republicans also were incensed that Reagan is played by Brolin, who is married to Democratic activist Barbra Streisand. Nancy Reagan is portrayed by Judy Davis. Both are self-described liberals, as are Zadan and Meron.
On Friday, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie asked CBS to allow a team of scholars to review the film in advance for historical accuracy. Otherwise, he said, CBS should run a disclaimer informing viewers that the film is a fictional portrayal of the Reagans.
Some Reagan supporters have urged boycotts of CBS by viewers and advertisers.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.