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'The Reagans' to air Nov. 30

The cable network Showtime, eager to capitalize on the controversy surrounding the movie "The Reagans," announced yesterday it plans to premiere the show much sooner than expected.

"The Reagans" will now air Nov. 30 at 8 p.m., just four days after it was originally scheduled to be broadcast on CBS.

Earlier this month, under intense pressure from Republicans and conservative groups, CBS pulled its planned broadcast of the miniseries during the November sweeps. At the time, the network said it had concluded the portrayal of the former president and his wife was not "balanced."

The New York Times, which reported details of the script last month, said the film stressed Reagan's forgetfulness and his alleged negative attitudes toward AIDS and gays, while Nancy Reagan was presented as a controlling woman who relied on astrologers for advice.

Yesterday, Showtime -- which licensed the film from its corporate sibling CBS, and had been expected to air it sometime next year -- said it will air an edited version of the four-hour film that reflects the vision of producers Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, and Robert Allan Ackerman. "They've worked diligently to craft the movie as honestly and balanced as possible," said Robert Greenblatt, Showtime's president of entertainment, in a statement.

The movie will look at the president and his wife from the early days of their marriage through the White House years.

A Showtime spokeswoman said the network decided to air the movie now because "there's so much excitement around it." She declined to say whether particular scenes that were reported on in advance will be edited out, and said the network would not provide advance copies of the film. The final version, however, will be shorter than the original because there will be no commercial interruptions: Showtime is a premium cable channel with an estimated 12.3 million subscribers, according to the media research firm Kagan World Media.

"The Reagans" stars James Brolin, the husband of activist Democrat Barbra Streisand, as the president, and Judy Davis as his wife. The script is based in part on "First Ladies," a book by Carl Anthony, a former speechwriter for Nancy Reagan.

Brent Baker, vice president of the watchdog group the Media Research Center, said he was "disappointed and disturbed that Showtime would go forward with a product that is so obviously flawed. We hope that people don't watch it. . . . We fear that it'll be a very derogatory and liberal take on his life."

Baker said that based on what he's read about the script, he believes "it's a mocking film of him as kind of a befuddled old guy playing second fiddle to Nancy and other operatives. Certainly, it's not a positive take on him as a take-charge guy. We were hoping Showtime would do more to try to edit it and make it a better overall production."

Yesterday, the Republican National Committee sent a letter to Showtime requesting that the program be reviewed for historical accuracy, or that viewers be informed by on-screen "crawls" that it is a fictional portrayal.

In a joint statement, Zadan, Meron, and Ackerman said they were "pleased that our final version of the movie will be presented. We are proud to live in a country where everyone, including artists and writers, has the right of free speech." The producers, through their publicist, declined to comment further.

Talk of the dial

7 a.m. WBNW-AM (1120) -- "ChickChat." Guests: Wayne Scott Lukas, celebrity stylist, talks about styling the world's biggest celebrities and dispenses holiday gift-giving advice.

7 a.m. WBIX-AM (1060) -- "Early Exchange." Guests: John Thero, CFO, Acusphere, Inc., discusses the drug company's finances following the first earnings report after its recent IPO; Steve Booma, executive vice president, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, discusses smaller premium hikes for small business customers and rising health insurance coverage.

5 p.m. WBNW-AM (1120) -- "PM Magazine." Guests: Brian Tracey, business consultant, speaker, author, "Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life"; Kate McDonough, president, the Waterfield Business Center; Janel Blood, executive director, Concord Chamber of Commerce.

Other radio highlights

7:30 a.m. WCRB-FM (102.5) -- Borodin's Nocturne for strings: LaLande's Concerto on the Canal of Versailles; Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 18.

Noon WUMB-FM (91.9) -- "Live at Noon." Guest: The Strawbs, English folk-rock band, performs live following interview.

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