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Chetwynd taking ‘Reagan’ on tour

One-man show will culminate with filmed finale

Producers David Permut and Mark Travis are mobilizing a one-man show about actor-turned-president Ronald Reagan.

“Reagan,” written by Lionel Chetwynd, will tour 10 cities beginning in fall ’09 and culminate in a final filmed performance that will be repackaged as a theatrical release.

The Reagan family is aboard the project in a consulting capacity, per Permut.

Permut said he and Travis have secured financing for the 10-city tour, which will likely end in D.C., where the performance will be filmed. Permut said he is in talks with a significant name to play Reagan.

Permut and Travis are following the same strategy they used with 1975’s “Give ‘Em Hell Harry,” in which James Whitmore played Harry Truman onstage, and then received an Oscar nomination for the film transfer. Mounted on a $200,000 budget, the film grossed just north of $1 million.

The producers fared even better when they employed the same strategy on “Richard Pryor, Live in Concert.” The venture cost less than $1 million — including Pryor’s $400,000 salary — and grossed more than $30 million in theaters.

Permut acknowledges film distribution has changed radically since the ’70s, but feels the film can succeed.

“Both the Truman and Pryor films were turned down by every studio, and we went right to theater owners like Sumner Redstone, booked the theaters and watched the films run forever,” Permut said. “Reagan’s personal story is compelling and interesting, regardless of where one stands politically. There are many of the same American-Dream dynamics in play that made Truman’s life work so well on the stage and screen.”

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