×

PopPolitics: Why ‘The Reagan Show’ Triggers Contrasts to Trump (Listen)

CNN debuts the documentary “The Reagan Show” on Monday, and it is an often surprising account of the just how transformative President Ronald Reagan was when it came to stage managing the presidency for photo ops, dramatic gestures, and sweeping backdrops.

But even though Reagan shares a celebrity background with President Donald Trump, as well as an ability to capture attention, the similarities end there.

The documentary, from Sierra Pettengill and Pacho Velez, shows the extent to which Reagan himself exploited television, drawing on his experience as a Hollywood movie actor and later TV host. “The Reagan Show” focuses on Reagan’s relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who also grasped the importance of public image, and how that influenced the landmark agreement to reduce nuclear stockpiles.

As much as he thrives on rallies and shows of presidential might, Trump also has brought a reality show background to the presidency. Where Reagan relied on the carefully planned performance, even admitting that he wondered how anyone could be president without knowing how to be an actor, Trump draws on unpredictability and a kind of chaos.

“Reagan’s template was very much that of a Hollywood actor,” Velez tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. “He thinks about being the good guy riding in to save the day in the third act, and thinking about the world in those sorts of terms. Whereas Trump is really a reality TV star. The question is who is going to get voted to get off the island this week.”

Pettengill says that Trump perhaps is creating a “new template,” but cautions that “it is really hard to draw larger conclusions based on what feels like a real abnormality that we are kind of stuck with right now. But it is really interesting to watch the difference. I don’t think there’s any less media savvy, I just think it is a different conception of what the media is and what the expectations of that particular form are.”

Listen below:

The filmmakers talk about the different ways that Reagan and Trump responded to times of national crisis.

“The Reagan Show” draws entirely on archival footage, including candid moments of Reagan and his wife Nancy after before and after speeches and photo ops.

“The Reagan Show” debuts on CNN at 9 p.m. on Monday, and it will be shown again at 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday; 10 p.m. on Sept. 9; and 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 10. Clip courtesy of CNN.

NEA to Stay? 

Romina Boccia of the Heritage Foundation argues that “cultural cronyism” is what has beset federal arts programs, including the National Endowment for the Arts. Even though the Trump administration proposed serving out funding for the NEA and its sister agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities, she belies that the agencies will survive this next round of funding.

Listen below:

The Mix: Trump’s Response, Arpaio Impact, and Kathy Griffin’s Return

David Cohen of Variety and Nikki Schwab of Daily Mail talk about President Trump’s response to Hurricane Harvey, along with other topics, on The Mix.

Listen here.

PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs from 2-3 p.m. ET/11-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.

More Biz

  • Dem Debate

    Democratic Debate: Mike Bloomberg Slams Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren Hammers Both

    Mike Bloomberg threw his first punch early in Tuesday’s Democratic Debate in Charleston, S.C., taking aim at Bernie Sanders over recent reports that Russian hackers are trying to assist his campaign for the presidency. Bloomberg, the billionaire owner of Bloomberg News and former New York City mayor, responded to Sanders’ opening remarks about economic equality [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial and Verdict

    European Industry Buoyed by Weinstein Verdict: 'Things Have Irrevocably Changed'

    Global film and TV executives, including “Elizabeth” producer Alison Owen and “Shakespeare in Love” producer David Parfitt, have spoken out about Harvey Weinstein’s guilty verdict, calling it a “seismic” victory that will bring about immutable change. Monday’s long-awaited outcome to the U.S. trial, which saw Weinstein convicted of sexual assault and third-degree rape, has been [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Alternate Juror: 'Justice Does Work'

    John Deysher served as an alternate juror on Harvey Weinstein’s trial. He sat through six weeks of arguments and testimony in Manhattan Supreme Court. Had any of the jurors been excused, he would have been called on to deliberate. But in the end, Deysher remained a bystander. On Monday, the jury convicted Weinstein of first-degree [...]

  • Bob Iger and Bob Chapek Disney

    Bob Chapek to Succeed Bob Iger as Disney CEO

    Bob Chapek, a 27-year Disney veteran who heads the company’s parks division, has been named CEO of Disney, succeeding Bob Iger. The timing of the news and the selection of Chapek came as a big surprise on Tuesday afternoon to many in the entertainment industry. Iger will continue as Disney chairman through the end of [...]

  • Miriam Haley and Tarale Wulff

    Women Who Testified in Harvey Weinstein Trial Slam His Lawyers for 'Victim Blaming' 

    Six women testified during the Harvey Weinstein rape trial, and now that the former movie mogul was found guilty of two felony charges, those women are speaking out with newfound freedom. Miriam Haley, who was assaulted by Weinstein in 2006, resulting in him being convicted of a criminal sex act (which carries a maximum sentence [...]

  • APA Logo

    APA Promotes Five Employees to Partner

    APA has upped four agents and one executive to partner across four departments. Jeff Witjas in talent, Sheryl Petersen and Mike Goldberg in scripted literary, Steve Fisher in intellectual property and Julia Johnson in business affairs & legal will all be joining the partner suite. “I’m very proud to have these five extraordinary individuals join [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content