Reagan Miniseries Irks RNC Chair

Ronald Reagan marks his 89th birthday with a kiss from wife Nancy
AP
The chairman of the Republican National Committee has told the president of CBS that historians should review the miniseries "The Reagans" for historical accuracy, or the network should run a disclaimer that the program is fiction.

"We live in a culture today of reality TV," Republican Party chairman Ed Gillespie said in a conference call Friday. "Lines between fact and fiction get blurred. I am concerned that its portrayal of our 40th president and his wife is not historically accurate."

Gillespie sent a letter to CBS President Leslie Moonves asking for a historical review or a disclaimer.

The Republican chairman said the miniseries may have omissions, distortions and exaggerations that may cause Americans to "come away with a misunderstanding of the Reagans and the Reagan administration."

Gil Schwartz, a CBS spokesman, refused comment.

"The Reagans," a two-part miniseries about former President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, airs Nov. 16 and 18. It is being condemned in advance by the former president's friends and supporters as unfair and inaccurate.

Some have questioned airing any dramatization of the 92-year-old Reagan's life while he struggles with Alzheimer's disease.

Gillespie said he hasn't seen the full miniseries but is uneasy because of news reports and brief clips that have been made public. He said he resents particularly how the miniseries depicts the Reagans' attitude on AIDS and how it depicts former first lady Nancy Reagan.

Critics have complained about the miniseries' treatment of the Reagans' attitudes on AIDS.

"They that live in sin shall die in sin," Reagan tells his wife in the script as she begs him to help AIDS victims. The author of the screenplay's final version, Elizabeth Egloff, told The New York Times there was no evidence such a conversation took place.

Gillespie said if CBS is not willing to allow the historical review, the network should run a crawler at the bottom that states the programs are fictional.

He said such reviews for historical accuracy should be routine when portraying a president's career or legacy. "I would make the same case about a portrayal of the Kennedy administration or the Carter administration," he said.