×

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.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • AI Technology David Beckham

    How AI Tech Is Changing Dubbing, Making Stars Like David Beckham Multilingual

    David Beckham does not speak Arabic, Hindi or Mandarin. But when the soccer legend starred in a PSA for malaria awareness this spring, he effortlessly switched among these and six other languages, thanks to cutting-edge technology that could soon change how Hollywood localizes its movies and TV shows. The PSA in question was produced with technology [...]

  • Eminem’s Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Copyright

    Eminem’s Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Massive Copyright Infringement

    Eminem’s publishing company Eight Mile Style filed a major copyright infringement lawsuit against Spotify late Thursday, claiming that the streaming giant has no license to host about 250 of Eminem’s songs, while also taking aim at the Music Modernization Act, the federal law enacted last year to improve royalty payments for songwriters. The news was [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    China’s iQIYI in Talks for Indonesia Expansion

    Chinese streaming firm iQIYI is in negotiations to expand further into Southeast Asia through a venture with Indonesia’s Media Nusantara Citra. iQIYI announced its first step outside Chinese-majority territories in June, when it revealed a linkup in Malaysia with pay-TV leader Astro. It also operates in Taiwan. In April, the company said that it planned [...]

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    Spotify Triples Free-Trial Period on Premium Service

    Spotify today extended the free-trial period for its Premium service from one month to three, tripling the amount of time listeners can take full advantage of the streaming giant’s offerings without paying for them. According to the announcement, the offer is “always-on/not limited time,” and will roll out across Spotify Premium plans globally: Individual and [...]

  • The Ringer Promotes Sean Fennessey, Mallory

    The Ringer Promotes Sean Fennessey, Mallory Rubin to Top Editorial Roles

    Mallory Rubin and Sean Fennessey have been promoted to top editorial posts at The Ringer, the pop culture and sports website and podcast network. Fennessey has been named chief content officer and Rubin has been named editor in chief. Both editors have been with The Ringer since it launched in 2016. Fennessey previously served as [...]

  • RihannaFenty Beauty By Rihanna Launch, Madrid,

    Rihanna's Diamond Ball Will Honor Activist Shaun King, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley

    Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and civil rights activist Shaun King will receive this year’s Diamond Ball Award at Rihanna’s fifth annual Diamond Ball, which will also feature performances from Pharrell and DJ Khaled. “I can’t imagine a better night than this year’s Clara Lionel Foundation event with Seth Meyers, Pharrell and DJ Khaled,” said [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content