TV Article

Hail to the Chief

Guess who'll play Reagan in CBS miniseries? James Brolin will star in the November sweeps event -- don't tell Babs

James Brolin just landed the biggest role he's had in years, though his wife is probably not too happy about it. The onetime star of TV's ''Hotel'' and ''Pensacola: Wings of Gold'' will play Ronald Reagan in CBS' miniseries ''The Reagans,'' which the network will make into a splashy November sweeps event. No doubt Mrs. Brolin, stalwart Democratic fundraiser Barbra Streisand, is gnashing her teeth.

''We haven't asked Barbra Streisand what she thinks about James Brolin playing Ronald Reagan, but we'll have to live with that,'' CBS Television chairman Les Moonves said Sunday at the TV Critics' Association meeting in Hollywood. Moonves said that the 63-year-old actor had been cast because he's an ''all-American boy'' and because he did such a good job playing a Republican presidential candidate on ''The West Wing'' last season.

The movie will trace the relationship of the former first couple from their meeting in 1949, when they were both Hollywood actors, through Reagan's 1980s presidency. Playing Nancy Reagan will be Judy Davis. Producing the movie are Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, who not only coproduced the movie ''Chicago,'' but also coproduced another miniseries biography of a movie star, 2001's ''Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.'' That miniseries won five Emmys, including one for Davis' portrayal of Garland.

It's not clear how far into the present the movie will go. Last week, Nancy Reagan, now 82, made a rare public appearance (she spends most of her time at the side of the Alzheimer's afflicted-former president, now 92), attending the christening of the USS Ronald Reagan, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier named for a living ex-president.

Originally posted Jul 21, 2003