News that Will Ferrell optioned Reagan as a starring medium has triggered a firestorm of controversy.
The project has drawn flak from Reagan's children Patti Davis and Michael Reagan, who said the movie was "cruel" and warned that "Alzheimer's isn't a joke," and the Alzheimer's Association, who are "appalled" at the comedy's idea.
On Friday, not 24 hours after the story spread, Ferrell announced that he had undermined the project, with a rep saying, "While it is by no means an 'Alzheimer's comedy' as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing the project."
The script, by novice feature writer Mike Rosolio, was in ninth place on 2015's Black List, having been praised by 25 Hollywood executives. It was quite popular in Hollywood circles and A-list talents James Brolin, John Cho and Lena Dunham held a live reading of the script last March. As it turns out Reagan is actually a good-natured and well-researched comedy that gives an "alternate take" on unstable events in American history.
The central character is Frank Corden, a low-level White House adviser with a sweetly concocted view of American democracy. A speech Vice President Dick Cheney gives to Frank underscores the other side of what is ultimately a story of political cynicism versus idealism. He says, "We needed a face, we needed a voice. We elected an actor and didn't even think about it. ... It's the 21st century: We don't really need a president."
In light of the dramatic political rise of a certain reality star, it doesn't take long to understand what Ferrell and McKay saw in the project.