Saving Face

Steve Wiecking

CBS stood for Cowardly Bullshit Salesmen last week after Chairman Les Moonves decided not to air The Reagans miniseries for fear of economic reprisal from wealthy, angry conservatives. Oh, sure, Moonves says he yanked the thing because it "did not present a balanced portrayal of the Reagans," but this is the same network raking in the cash from Survivor, a decidedly unbalanced portrayal of humanity, so you know how much water that holds. It's obvious that Moonves' knees buckled when faced with threats from Reagan's many minions, who, much like the Manson Family, continue to remain frighteningly devoted to their satanic leader years after his bloody crimes. Moonves swears he was only concerned about a superior product. Call me cynical, but I have trouble believing in the moral steadfastness of any executive who has kept Becker on the air.

No one complaining about the ersatz network event has even seen the damn thing. All we know is that James Brolin is playing old Ron, and Judy Davis is Nancy, and that, amongst other dialogue leaked to the press, the president at one point dismisses the plight of AIDS patients by saying, "They that live in sin shall die in sin." Nancy is apparently depicted as a "control freak," while Reagan comes across as "doddering." The casting is supposedly offensive because Judy Davis is a liberal and James Brolin is married to Barbra Streisand.

Amidst all the righteous hoo-ha from both sides in the debate over whether expensive television crap has the freedom to be inaccurate, I'd like to ask: What's so inaccurate? Did everyone just wake up from a two-decade bender with a Tijuana whore, or are we all just choosing to dismiss the cold hard facts of the Reagan administration? Folks, that was eight years during which we now know Nancy did, in fact, exert control over her increasingly doddering husband, a man who, by the way, provided more than a few sound bites about his disdain for homosexuals. And someone needs to explain the furor over the rather generous casting: If it had been up to someone openly vindictive like me, anyone cheap, like Joan Van Ark, would have been Nancy, and Judy Davis would've been doddering right after another Emmy as the president.

I knew CBS was in trouble after viewing its recent three-hour 75th anniversary bash, in which the median age of the attendees was 75 but it had only been three hours since their last face-lift. The Price Is Right's Bob Barker looked like Phyllis Diller; Carol Burnett's mug was stretched so far behind her that she was practically talking out of the ear she always tugs. The night seemed more devoted to Botox than to quality entertainmentit's genuinely disturbing to watch a roomful of old people incapable of moving their upper lips.

The attempt to erase history, of course, has long been an ominous pursuit of ours. We are, as a culture, feverishly determined to refute what comes with age. By tightly pulling The Reagans back from its schedule, CBS is saying loud and clear that any past with more than a few wrinkles in it isn't worth our attention.

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