The story of Ronald Reagan’s life — from boyhood to Hollywood actor to leader of the free world — is about to spill out on the big screen in a way quite different from the miniseries that caused such a stir seven years ago.
The feature film, titled “Reagan” and sporting a $30 million production budget, is set for release late next year and will be based on two best-selling biographies of the 40th U.S. president by Paul Kengor: “The Crusader” and “God and Ronald Reagan.”
Jonas McCord, who was not a Reagan fan, wrote the script. “I was of the opinion that at best he was a bad actor and at worst a clown,” McCord said.
But the scribe, whose credits include “Malice” and “The Body,” said he was drawn to the project as he researched the former president’s upbringing. He described Reagan’s childhood as “a surreal Norman Rockwell painting with his alcoholic Catholic father, devout Christian mother, Catholic brother and ever-changing boarders the family took in.”
The film will begin with the 1981 assassination attempt and tell Reagan’s story through flashbacks and flash-forwards. No actors or director have been signed.
Hollywood’s last attempt to depict Reagan was the 2003 miniseries “The Reagans,” which starred James Brolin. It was supposed to air on CBS until a controversy erupted over alleged left-wing bias and it was relegated to sibling premium cable outlet Showtime. It was seen by 1.2 million people.
“Only in Hollywood could you make an insulting, condescending movie about a much-loved historical figure, hire an actor who loathes the man, watch it flop and then somehow conclude that Americans don’t want to see a movie about him,” said producer Mark Joseph, who optioned the books four years ago.
“I watched Americans line up and wait for 10 hours for the simple privilege of passing by his closed casket. They love this man,” added Joseph, a marketing and development executive who worked on “Ray” and “The Passion of the Christ.”
He has partnered on the project with Ralph Winter, whose producing credits include four “X-Men” movies, two “Fantastic Four” movies and the 2001 remake of “Planet of the Apes.”
The producers are considering two distribution offers as they complete a final round of funding. They have created the production company Rawhide Pictures, an homage to the Secret Service code name for Reagan.
According to the New York Daily News, John Lennon’s killer was denied parole yesterday for the sixth time. The parole board panel said that Chapman’s “premeditated senseless and selfish act of tragic consequence” makes his release “inappropriate at this time and incompatible with the welfare of the community.”
Releasing him would “would so deprecate the seriousness of [the] crime as to undermine respect for the law,” the panel said.
The state parole board received 75 letters against Chapman’s release – including one from Yoko Ono, and just 1 memo in favor of his release. There always has to be a contrarian!
Chapman is locked up at Attica Correctional Facility, where he works as a porter and assists other inmates in one of the prison’s law libraries.
Because of his notoriety, Chapman is housed in a special unit apart from the general population.
He is also allowed conjugal visits with his wife, who lives in Hawaii, under the “family reunion program.” Sources have said she visits about once a year.
This week’s selection is “Parents Just Don’t Understand” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince:
“Parents Just Don’t Understand” came off of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s second album, He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper. The song was released in 1988 and won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance, and basically launched Will Smith into superstardom. Will Smith is one of the few successful rappers who use clean lyrics.
The beat of the song, and the video style were used in Will Smith’s successful show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Jeff Townes (DJ Jazzy Jeff) also made appearances in the show.
Who would have thought back then that this rapper would go on to launch a successful television show, then go on to become one of the most sought after movie actors in Hollywood?!? He even has the pull to get his son to star in movies such as the successful Karate Kid remake this year.
Question: What disease killed off Mark Harmon’s character on St. Elsewhere?
Last Week’s Question: Who teamed with Aretha Franklin in 1987 for her first chart-topper since Respect? What was the name of the song?
Answer: George Michael and “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”
George Michael had always wanted to sing with Aretha, who was one of his favorite singers. His dream came true when he recorded “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”. The song debuted at #59, the week of February 21, 1987. It reached #1 on April 18, 1987, and stayed for 2 weeks. It also reached #1 in the U.K., which made it Aretha’s only #1 song there.
In recent years, George Michael is more known for his legal troubles than his music. But this song was really good:
We will wrap up the ‘Back to School’ series with songs about school. I have a list of 3 songs, in no particular order. I’m sure I have to be missing something. So if you know of any other ’80s songs about school or teachers, let me know.
We’ll start with .38 Special’s “Teacher, Teacher” from the movie Teachers, that starred Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, Ralph Macchio, and Richard Mulligan:
Next is Motley Crue’s “Smokin’ in the Boys Room”. I couldn’t get the original video, but here is a live version of it, with the band in their prime:
“Sit down, Waldo!” Let’s finish this off with Van Halen’s classic video, “Hot for Teacher”:
It’s not all that bad…yet. Today is the day that I join the ranks of people who grew up in the ’80s by reaching my 40’s. Some of you have already blown by the big milestone, and others will be hitting it shortly.
I remember when 40 seemed so old and far away. It’s funny how fast time flies as you get older and older, and busier and busier.
I was lucky enough to grow up in the greatest decade. I do remember quite a bit of the 70’s. Then in 1980, I turned a whole “decade old”. Around that time, the world seemed to change. Our country had been in turmoil. Gas prices were high, we were still reeling from Watergate, and from the division of the country during the Vietnam War. Countries weren’t respecting us as Russia invaded Afghanistan during the Cold War, without any fear of any repercussions, and Iran had taken U.S. hostages.
But, as we reached the ’80s, Ronald Reagan became president, and our country seemed to get some pride back. The hostages were freed, and by the end of the decade, we had won the Cold War as the Berlin Wall was taken down.
The good times had begun again, with fun movies, great family television shows, and there were bright neon colors. People were spending money again.
Technology was picking up. We were able to actually own our own PC’s such as IBM’s or Commodore 64’s. We didn’t have to go to the arcade to play video games, as we were able to play on our Ataris or Intellivions. We did not have to go to the movie theater to watch a movie without commercials. We could watch movies in our own homes with the VCR and Cable TV. And Compact Discs were starting to become popular. No longer did you have to hit fast forward on your tape player to get your favorite song – only to stop to early, then try to fast forward again, then go to far, and then have to rewind. You could just hit a button, and you could hear your song much faster and with much less aggravation.
Although we do come from the greatest decade, there are a lot of things to appreciate these days.
– I have a beautiful wife, who is also my best friend.
– I have always loved music. And now I can hold all my songs in one place. There are around 7,000 songs on my iPod and counting. Instead of making a 90 minute mix tape, I can make a play list of as many songs as I want in a matter of minutes or seconds.
– I am not into video games, but I know you can play video games with people all over the world.
– Television screens are getting to be even better than what movie screens used to be.
– I have always loved writing. I used to write stories in a spiral notebook. Then I would have to pass the notebook to somebody if I wanted them to read them. Now, I can write, and the share my writing with anybody all over the world with just the click of a button.
But it is still great to return to the ’80s. We could take some lessons from our past. It would be nice if our country could get our pride back, like we had back then. It would be nice if this decade could find an identity. The ’70s had disco and bell bottoms. The ’80s had the great times, bright colors and big hair. The ’90s had grunge. The teens from the ’80s even had an identity in the ’90s known as Generation X.
If I’m missing something, let me know. But I don’t know what identity kids and teens of the ’00s had.
I am happy to Return to the ’80s whenever I want, I hope you are too.
In closing, here are ’80s stars that share my birthday:
This week’s selection is in honor of the birthday girl. Debbie Gibson turned 40 yesterday, August 31! (2 days before me). I actually saw her in concert for her Out of the Blue tour. She is extremely talented. And I had quite the crush on her (like, I’m sure, most guys my age did).
After Electric Youth, she did not really appear on the charts too much. If you like her music, I would highly recommend her 1995 album Think With Your Heart.
Happy Birthday, Debbie, and I wish you many more!!
Here are 4 of Deborah’s hits:
This song got Debbie into the Guiness Book of World Records as the youngest artist to write, produce, and perform a # 1 hit single.
Only In My Dreams
This was Debbie’s debut single. This came off of the Out of the Blue album, and reached to #4. Not bad for a debut!
Shake Your Love
This was Debbie’s second single, and it also reached up to #4. This video was choreographed by Paula Abdul.
Lost In Your Eyes
This is my favorite Debbie Gibson song by far. This was the first song released off of her second album, Electric Youth. The song easily reached #1, and stayed there for 3 weeks.
Most schools are going back in session this week, with some even starting today. In that spirit, here is another entry to the Back to School series. We will talk about the greatest school movie of the ’80s, and maybe of all time – The Breakfast Club:
In 8 hours and 54 minutes, students from different high school social groups, struggled then bonded with each other, as they spent a Saturday in detention together. Did schools really have detentions on Saturdays?
Anyway, the five students at fictional Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois were to spend their detention in the school library and ordered not to speak or move from their seats by the antagonistic principal, Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason). He assigns a 1,000 word essay in which each student must write about who he or she thinks he or she is.
The students were:
John Bender (Judd Nelson) – The Rebel
Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) – The Snob
Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez) – The Jock
Brian Johnson (Anthony Michael Hall) – The Geek
Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy) – The Outcast
Bender stirred up trouble with the other students, but managed to get them to open up about themselves. Brian and Andrew had a lot of pressure on them to be a great student and athlete, respectively. And Bender was abused by his father, with a cigar burn to prove it.
They were in detention for the following reasons:
Andrew taped a students buttocks together
Claire ditched class to go to the mall
Brian brought a flare gun to school and it went off in his locker
Bender pulled the fire alarm
and the best one:
Allison had nothing better to do
John Hughes wrote this great movie in just 2 days. He also had a cameo as he played Brian’s father.
And who could forget the great song for the movie – “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds? You can’t think of this song without thinking of the movie and vice versa.
Here are some other facts about the movie:
Emilio Estevez was originally going to play Bender, but Hughes couldn’t find someone to play Andrew Clark so Emilio agreed to play Clark.
Molly Ringwald really wanted to play Allison but Ally Sheedy had already been promised the part.
Nicolas Cage was originally considered for the role of John Bender but the production couldn’t afford his salary at the time. John Cusack was originally cast as John Bender, but John Hughes decided to replace him with Judd Nelson before shooting began.
The scene in which all characters sit in a circle on the floor in the library and tell stories about why they were in detention was not scripted. John Hughes told them all to ad-lib.
Other proposed titles were “The Lunch Bunch” and “Library Revolution”.
The switchblade used in the movie actually belonged to Judd Nelson. He explained that he had it for protection purposes.
At the time of shooting, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall were the only Breakfast Club members of high school age, both being 17. Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy both were 23, and Judd Nelson was 26.
Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, and Ally Sheedy played high school students in this film, the same year that they would portray college graduates in St. Elmo’s Fire (1985).
And here are some quotes from the movie:
[Claire is doing Allison’s make-up.]
Claire: You know, you look a lot better without all that black shit under your eyes.
Allison: Hey, I like all that black shit… Why are you being so nice to me?
Claire: Because you’re letting me.
Allison Reynolds: Your middle name is Ralph, as in puke, your birthdate’s March 12th, you’re 5’9 and a half, you weigh 130 pounds and your social security number is 049380913.
Andrew Clark: Wow! Are you psychic?
Allison Reynolds: No.
Brian Johnson: Well, would you mind telling me how you know all this about me?
Allison Reynolds: I stole your wallet.
John Bender (to the principal): Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?
Bender: I just wanna know how one becomes a janitor because Andrew here is very interested in pursuing a career in the custodial arts.
John Bender: Brian, this is a very nutritious lunch. All the food groups are represented. Did your mom marry Mr. Rogers?
Brian Johnson: Uh, no. Mr. Johnson.
Andrew Clark: You don’t have any goals.
John Bender: Oh but I do.
Andrew Clark: Yeah?
John Bender: I wanna be just like you. I figure all I need, is a lobotomy and some tights.
Brian Johnson: You wear tights?
Andrew Clark: No I don’t wear tights. I wear the required uniform.
Brian Johnson: Tights.
Andrew Clark: Shut up.
John Bender: Sporto.
Andrew Clark: What?
John Bender: You get along with your parents?
Andrew Clark: Well, if I say yes I’m an idiot, right?
John Bender: You’re an idiot anyway. But if you say you get along with your parents, well, you’re a liar too.
Brian Johnson: Dear Mr. Vernon: We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it is we did wrong, but we think you’re crazy for making us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.
So, what social group were you in. This is anonymous, so don’t be shy!
You can even be in more than one.
Did you have any favorite parts of the movie that you would like to bring up? Let us know.
Question: Who teamed with Aretha Franklin in 1987 for her first chart-topper since Respect? What was the name of the song?
Last Week’s Question: In the movie “Better Off Dead”, what was the name of Lane’s younger brother?
Answer: Badger Meyer
Lane Meyer’s silent, but genius brother, Badger, was played by Scooter Stevens. He could build laser guns, and attract trashy women.
Better Off Dead, was one of my favorite movies of the ’80s, and it is still funny today. It is still one of my favorite John Cusak movies.