By Geoff Metcalf
October 27, 2003
CBS is in jeopardy of a cruel reality check that could and should cost some executives their jobs. The two part miniseries that CBS apparently intends to run during the crucial November sweeps may well have the opposite effect network programmers' desire.
Traditionally networks try to walk the razors edge in offering programming that pushes the envelope while concurrently remaining 'sensitive' to whom they offend. The ultimate objective is to acquire the largest audience. Audience, after all, is REALLY the product�not the program or the star. It is the audience that is sold to sponsors. Sponsors are 'buying' the audience to whom they deliver their sales pitch.
It is counter intuitive, and professionally disastrous, to choose 'edgy' over reason. Careers are made and lost over the delicate balance of how far networks can push the envelope before reaching the point of diminishing return.
CBS appears about to permit a sycophant political philosophy and prejudice to blowback into potentially epic negative consequences.
The Reagan miniseries, according to the New York Times and Matt Drudge http://www.drudgereport.com/rr4.htm is less a 'history' and much more a left wing hatchet job on a much loved conservative icon.
The monumental bad judgment of the CBS brass is compounded by the tragic fact that the subject of their revisionist vitriol has Alzheimer's and is dying.
Since Ronald Reagan (the personification of conservative values and principles) is incapable of defending himself, CBS is forcing the legions of those who respect and admire the man to do the heavy lifting�and they will.
Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times http://www.iht.com/articles/114751.html noted, "that this deconstruction of his presidency is shot through a liberal lens, exaggerating his foibles and giving short shrift to his accomplishments."
Already there are efforts to organize boycotts of CBS and those businesses that choose to advertise in the mean spirited revisionist effort to denigrate the Reagans.
This is NOT censorship or armchair programming. It is market reality. CBS most certainly can put whatever they want on the air. It is their candy store. However, they cannot compel audiences to watch. And there are consequences to things we do and don't do.
It is impossible to present entertainment product that will not offend 'somebody'. The objective (usually) is to attract the most number of likely prospects for whatever product is advertising. However, when the vehicle becomes so contentious as to drive away audience AND advertisers, the negative consequences 'should' outweigh the 'creative' desire to proselytize.
The collection of personalities connected with this project precluded any possibility of an evenhanded, objective chronicling of the Reagan's. However, obviously, the objective was never to recount history but to excoriate the living symbol of producer's philosophic wrath.
Hollywood, Barbara Streisand, and the producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan loathe Ronald Reagan. CBS Chairman Les Moonves (Clinton buddy) is ultimately responsible. Reagan is anathema to the liberal sycophant gospel. Notwithstanding protestations to the contrary, the pretentious political correct dogma of the left remains systemic at CBS.
It is significant to note the film was vetted and approved by CBS lawyers and the suits at Sony Pictures Television. This is not a covert hit piece by producers in thrall of Barbara Streisand.
Ronald Reagan was not and is not a perfect man. However, he was a remarkable man who achieved remarkable things. The net results of his long life is extraordinary and should be acknowledged. Rather, (no pun intended) CBS has chosen to diminish an icon, apparently, to accommodate a political ideology that remains antithesis to a magnificent legacy.
In an effort to defend the indefensible, producer Meron said: "This is not a vendetta, this is not revenge. It is about telling a good story in our honest sort of way. We all believe it's a story that should be told." That quote has to be the most disingenuous, duplicitous crock of excrement since Bill Clinton said; "I did not have sex with that woman."
The New York Times noted, "some involved in the making of the movie said that they were girding for a considerable outcry from some of Reagan's more die-hard supporters." THAT is grossly inadequate a means of articulating what should, and may happen. Not just "more die-hard supporters" are and will be outraged. Even left wing die-hards have acknowledged, "it is a hit piece", "payback time", and "this could hurt democrats more than the Gray Davis recall."
The Reagans is a 'Kill Bill' without the hacked off body parts. It is petty, mean spirited character assassination and it demands vengeance.
CBS has every right to do whatever they want. However, they are a public company with a responsibility to a board of directors with a responsibility to shareholders. Expect advertisers to seek "the greater part of valor" and disengage from the controversy.
'Heavens Gate' once brought down a film studio. 'The Reagans' has the potential of significantly impacting on the entire November sweeps for CBS.
Yes, payback IS a bitch! There ARE consequences....
� 2003 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved
"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's Web Site: www.geoffmetcalf.com. While you're at it - pick up a copy of Geoff's latest book! E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Ronald Reagan was not and is not a perfect man. However, he was a remarkable man who achieved remarkable things. The net results of his long life is extraordinary and should be acknowledged."