The Black List, the much anticipated annual menu of Hollywood’s “most liked” unproduced screenplays, was released Monday and one of the top spots — amid tales of famous chimps, sports champs, and space adventurers — was a script about a U.S. president and a White House intern. But it’s not what you think.
“Reagan,” written by Mike Rosolio, is a fictitious take on the behind-the-scenes struggles of a president struggling with dementia. According to the script’s logline, “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.” There’s no indication of whether this film is a comedy or not, but the film’s sure to produce some big controversy if it makes it to the big screen. (Other Black List scripts you may have heard of? “The Hunger Games.”) From the one-sentence summary the film sounds like a mash up of the actor-as-president meme in “Dave,” the uphill climb of Jonah Hill’s character in “Get Him to the Greek” and perhaps even the sentimentality of “The Notebook.”
Whispers about Reagan’s deteriorating mental state began almost immediately after he announced his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 1994, five years after leaving the White House. Reporters, physicians and even Reagan’s own children have argued over the timing. Had the commander in chief’s mind begun to slip while he was in charge of the country or after?
Just last month Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and Post op-ed columnist George Will had it out over O’Reilly’s book, “Killing Reagan,” which claims that the 1981 assassination attempt against Reagan weakened him. The book pointed to a 1987 memo outlining concerns about the president’s mental state as proof.
And now there’s the possibility of “Reagan,” a movie with an entire plot centered on the controversial premise that the president wasn’t all there or, as former White House reporter Lesley Stahl once described the then 75-year-old president, “gonzo.”