Things are looking up these days for a once prodigal son. His book is coming out soon, he's hosting a TV game show the networks are considering and he's headed for a brand-new career on the lecture circuit.
And, when he comes to Washington Thursday for a private business appointment, he'll even get bed-and-breakfast at the White House. Or, as his spokesman yesterday described the visit, "It's purely a son coming to visit with his folks."
Michael Reagan's fortunes have been on the upswing ever since he realized he had story that ought to be told. That story, about being victimized at the age of 7 by a camp counselor, is an important theme in his forthcoming book about growing up as the child of famous parents. He'll start telling it to audiences on Jan. 20 in Appleton, Wis.
Appleton (population about 50,000) is so geared up for the lecture that a local bank is promoting it with one of those ticker-tape signs, and the Green Bay Packers are helping pay some of the expenses. Nobody is saying how much Reagan's fee is, but tickets to the black-tie-optional event are $35 a seat.
It all came about when Kay Zibolsky of Appleton read how Michael Reagan never told his parents about his childhood ordeal, keeping it a secret from them. Not until last spring when the word got out that he was writing a book did President Reagan learn that Michael had been a victim of child molestation.
Zibolsky, the founder of an organization called the Life After Assault League (LAAL), wrote Michael asking if he would come to Appleton to speak. She enclosed literature about LAAL, which she hopes will become a national force in victim-to-victim counseling.
Michael's story was only too familiar to Zibolsky. She, too, had been assaulted as a child, a victim of rape at age 16 who had a baby but never told her parents. She turned the child over for adoption and wasn't reunited with her daughter until 26 years later.
Impressed with LAAL's brochure and interested in Zibolsky's counseling program, Michael Reagan agreed to travel to Appleton. His appearance is being billed as the first time he will be speaking out in public about his experience.
This week he is in Canada, where he is taping the game show "Lingo," which he hosts. "Lingo" is shown in only three U.S. cities but is already climbing to the top of the game show charts in Canada. According to publicist Dale Olson, the networks are taking a look at the show.
When it comes to getting into the act, what better act to get into than that of the Kennedy Center's own Roger L. Stevens? Tomorrow night's tribute to Stevens, who retires to a newly created post of founder-chairman this year, will be hosted by the center's board of trustees. It is likely to be only one of more to come in the year ahead. Appropriately, perhaps, Stevens and his wife Christina started off 1988 by tossing a tribute of their own -- to each other -- on their 50th wedding anniversary.
On that occasion, Stevens permitted himself a special indulgence by having fresh imported caviar flown down from New York for a New Year's Day celebration. Christina indulged herself by inviting the lovable, huggable mutt of "Annie" fame to join their 250 other guests at the box tier of the Opera House.
Sandy's presence only pointed up the impact Christina Stevens has had on animal welfare and Washington, quite apart from that of her husband on the cultural life here since 1961. An unrelenting animal-rights activist, Christina contributed to theatrical history when she came between Sandy and the lethal hypodermic needle he reportedly had a date with.
Hundreds of curtain calls later, Sandy seemed right at home at the Kennedy Center, where "Annie" first opened more than a decade ago. Sandy won't be at tomorrow night's party, but 200 or so other VIPs will be. Put together at the request of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the dinner is the handiwork of cochairs Marion Jorgensen and Bonita Granville Wrather.
Behind the scenes of "Behind the Scenes" (in which the author talks about Ronald and Nancy Reagan ... and himself): Michael K. Deaver's publisher, William Morrow and Co., is being besieged with requests to interview Deaver. The book comes out Feb. 15, and while Morrow's chief publicist Lela Rolontz says there are no plans for a publication party, she isn't so categorical about ruling out interviews or a book tour. One reason may be that Deaver's sentencing on three counts of perjury is scheduled Feb. 25 in U.S. District Court. A book tour might be entirely possible as long as his case is under appeal. In the end, it will be Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson who has the power to decide whether Deaver remains free on bail while his case is being appealed or whether he spends his time in jail.