Earlier this week, we reported that Will Ferrell would be putting his prodigious presidential impression skills to work by producing and starring in Reagan, a satirical comedy with this wickedly clever premise:
When Ronald Reagan falls into dementia at the start of his second term, an ambitious intern is tasked with convincing the commander in chief that he is an actor playing the president in a movie.
Now, just a few days later, Ferrell has dropped out of the production entirely, according to Variety. So what happened? Believe it or not, it wasn’t GOP true believers alerted by the Reagan alarm installed in every registered Republican household who came to defend their embattled icon. Leading the attack were members of the Reagan family themselves, for whom their patriarch’s slow, horrible death from Alzheimer’s disease is an understandably sensitive subject. Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis threw the first salvo in an open letter published in The Daily Beast, where she wrote:
Alzheimer’s is the ultimate pirate, pillaging a person’s life and leaving an empty landscape behind. It sweeps up entire families, forcing everyone to claw their way through overwhelming grief, confusion, helplessness, and anger …
Perhaps you would like to explain to [families] how this disease is suitable material for a comedy.
Yikes. Her brother Michael then joined in, followed by the Alzheimer’s Foundation, which sent out a press release this morning which reads, in part, “the idea that a film depicting President Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s, or anyone with dementia, as a comedic device is offensive.” The news that Ferrell was quitting the film came mere hours after. Page Six broke the news with a statement from Ferrell’s rep, who says, “While it is by no means a ‘Alzheimer’s comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project.” (You can judge for yourself how offensive Reagan actually is by reading The Hollywood Reporter’s summary of the script.)
Meanwhile, George W. Bush is fine and his family continues to have no problem with Will Ferrell mocking him on TV.