The news that Will Ferrell be returning to the Oval Office to play a dementia-stricken Ronald Reagan in a movie trickled down this week, and the late Gipper's family is not amused. The film, creatively titled Reagan, was written by Mike Rosolio, and Ferrell is slated to both produce and star.
The script follows a second-term Reagan as he starts to experience dementia, and an intern is tasked with convincing Reagan that he's simply playing the president in a movie.
Patti Davis, former First Daughter and current author, is not laughing at the premise, writing an open letter to Ferrell that comes out swinging.
Dear Mr. Ferrell,
I saw the news bulletin — as did everyone — that you intend to portray my father in the throes of Alzheimer’s for a comedy that you are also producing. Perhaps you have managed to retain some ignorance about Alzheimer’s and other versions of dementia. Perhaps if you knew more, you would not find the subject humorous.
She goes on to describe the horrors of Alzheimer's, arguing that it should not be used for humor:
Alzheimer’s doesn’t care if you are President of the United States or a dockworker. It steals what is most precious to a human being — memories, connections, the familiar landmarks of a lifetime that we all come to rely on to hold our place secure in this world and keep us linked to those we have come to know and love. I watched as fear invaded my father’s eyes — this man who was never afraid of anything. I heard his voice tremble as he stood in the living room and said, “I don’t know where I am.” I watched helplessly as he reached for memories, for words, that were suddenly out of reach and moving farther away. For ten long years he drifted — past the memories that marked his life, past all that was familiar…and mercifully, finally past the fear.
There was laughter in those years, but there was never humor.
One of Reagan's sons, Michael Reagan, tweeted out his view:
While Ferrell planned to produce the movie under his production banner Gary Sanchez Productions, no studio has officially greenlit the project, and The Hollywood Reporter speculates that Reagan's children coming forward could prevent the movie from happening.
"I think there's a strong chance this film won't get made now. The outrage and the president's children coming out and saying that they don't want it to be made, I think that could have a very detrimental effect on this movie getting greenlit," Matthew Belloni of The Hollywood Reporter said.
Ferrell and other movie people have yet to respond.