Patti Davis writes an open letter to Will Ferrell.
There are many movies — many plot lines — that involve a character with memory loss. Usually, it's more abstract than Alzheimer's — the sort of hit-on-the-head amnesia we've never seen in family or friends. Alzheimer's seems to belong in drama, and the movie business makes things like "Away From Her," "Iris," etc. etc. But why not comedy? Some of the saddest, darkest, most sensitive matters make great comedy. There's no better comic movie than "Dr. Strangelove," which is about all of humanity dying in a nuclear holocaust.
Is there something unforgivably cruel about the comic portrayal of a particular human being who really did suffer through Alzheimer's? But this man was President of the United States. Disrespecting authority is central to comedy and central to the life of a democracy. To be President of the United States is to be President of a place that speaks freely and disrespectfully about anyone who takes on a position of political authority and especially about the President of the United States.
Now, the script had better be good. It can't just be laughing at a person suffering from a disease. Here's a little insight into what it is:
[Beginning at] the start of Reagan’s second term... [t]he movie follows a dementia-addled Reagan as a White House intern tries to convince him that he is an actor playing the president in a movie....Some people might prefer a respectful presentation of the grand old President, but surely there is room for a comic exploration of the hypothesis that President Reagan, while still in office, had lost his mental faculties and the people around him were covering for him in terrifyingly absurd ways. Do it well, and it's a great comedy. They'd better believe they are doing it well. The stakes are high because they're appropriating the character of an American hero. We'll see what they do with it.
The script was first debuted on the Black List, an annual catalog of top un-produced Hollywood scripts, and it was so popular that a table reading was scheduled last month with actress Lena Dunham, who played Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, along with “Star Trek” actor John Cho.
But, according to YAF program director Amy Lutz, who attended the reading... “Although I was impressed with the talent of the actors participating in the table read and the occasional wit of the script... the entire screenplay is detached from reality.... [The movie portrays Reagan] as a caricature that college professors often paint of him... a bumbling, forgetful man, wrestling in the throes of Alzheimer’s and beholden to ‘devious’ advisors. The screenplay, though written to be a humorous satire, rather makes light of Alzheimer’s and undercuts President Reagan’s accomplishments in his second term."
UPDATE: Will Ferrell has backed out of the project.
A source told us of the Reagan movie, “It wasn’t a complete project because there was no financing, and no director attached. Will considered the movie, but ultimately decided not to do it.”
Reps for Ferrell would not confirm if his decision not to proceed with the “Reagan” movie was a direct result of the outcry from the Reagan family.