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Jane Fonda to play Nancy Reagan?

Jane Fonda to play Nancy Reagan?

Talk about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. I love this story from The Hollywood Reporter about Jane Fonda’s response to critics questioning her decision to play Nancy Reagan in a new movie about Ronald Reagan’s White House butler. Fonda says she wrote to Nancy Reagan to solicit her input and even requested some changes to the script because she felt it portrayed Reagan a little harshly. Fonda says she has a lot of respect for Reagan and called her a powerful and loyal woman. About her own politics, Fonda has said, “We all mellow with age.” Interesting! I must say it would have been nice if at least one of the main roles went to a Republican. 

“Stop Hanoi Jane,” says a Facebook page as conservatives seek to discredit and boycott Lee Daniels’ upcoming “The Butler,” but the actress remains unfazed: “It will cause more people to see the movie.”

Lee Daniels‘ The Butler doesn’t hit theaters until October, but the drama about the long-serving head butler at the White House already is being targeted by conservatives because of Jane Fonda‘s role as Nancy Reagan.

So far, backlash to The Weinstein Co. release is fairly muted — bloggers have disparaged the casting, and a Facebook page is promoting a boycott — but chatter about the liberal activist has picked up recently.

“The moviemakers are free to choose, but it seems like it was their way of giving people like me the middle finger,” says Larry Reyes, a Navy veteran and founder of the “Boycott Hanoi Jane Playing Nancy Reagan” page.

PHOTOS: The Top Celebrity Political Twitter Commentators

Fonda’s response? “Get a life,” she tells THR. “If he creates hoopla, it will cause more people to see the movie.”

Butler tells the true story of Eugene Allen, lead servant to the president from 1952 to 1986, so the Reagans are only part of the story. But all of the Republican presidents are played by left-leaning actors:John Cusack is Richard NixonRobin Williams is Dwight Eisenhower and Alan Rickman isRonald Reagan. Further baiting the right, Butler was written by Danny Strong of HBO’s Game Change, which some thought portrayed Sarah Palin unfairly.

Fonda was aware of potential pushback and had a portion of the script changed because it made Nancy look too mean. “I might not have always agreed with Nancy Reagan, but I admire her, and I’d never try to insert my views when playing her,” says Fonda. “I tried to be who she was: a forceful, loyal, powerful first lady.”

Fonda is one of the best-known liberal activists Hollywood has ever produced, and is a pariah among right-wingers who can’t get past photos of her cavorting with the enemy during the Vietnam War, no matter how many times she apologizes. Whether efforts to promote a boycott amount to anything is yet to be seen, but similar dustups are notable:

1. The History channel backed out of airing The Kennedys in 2011 after the left complained it amounted to a hit piece on President John F. Kennedy.

2. In 2006, ABC made several changes to The Path to 9/11 after President Bill Clinton and others of his administration complained of inaccuracies. The miniseries aired without ads after sponsors balked, and Disney has yet to release the Emmy-winning series on DVD.

3. In 2003, howls from the right encouraged CBS to acknowledge that its miniseries The Reagans did “not present a balanced portrayal of the Reagans,” so it moved it to its sister cable channel, Showtime. 

“I can’t imagine conservatives going to see a movie with Fonda,” columnist Ann Coulter tells THR.“Who are the filmmakers hoping to attract? Do liberals hate Nancy Reagan that much?”

PHOTOS: Jane Fonda, THR’s Janice Min Honored at National Entertainment Journalism Awards

Such reactions to her casting are to be expected, Fonda acknowledges.

“I figured it would tweak the right. Who cares?” she says.

Besides, Fonda, who never met Nancy Reagan, nevertheless has her approval, because when a friend told her she was meeting with the former first lady, Fonda asked her to mention the film.

“I was very happy to hear that she was pleased that I was playing her. Which shows how smart she is,” says Fonda. “She’s smarter than all those extreme right-wingers who are angry that I’m playing a woman whose politics are different than mine. Come on, it’s a movie!”


Are you dialing in to the debates?

According to CNN, 3.6 million people watched the Tea Party Express Republican Presidential Debate on CNN last night, 1.1 million of them in the coveted age bracket between 25 and 54.  What is interesting to me is that means 2.5 million of them were either under 25 (unlikely) or over 54.  My guess is it was the over 54 crowd that tuned in in a big way to hear about Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  Social Security was one of the dominant topics.  While Gov. Rick Perry has referred to it as a Ponzi scheme in the past, he said Monday night that it will be there for anyone who has paid in.  Mitt Romney gets the bold stroke award for having the guts to come out and say it will be there for those now drawing benefits but it probably won’t be there in its current form for those in their 50s and young people just starting to pay into the system.  Don’t forget the Congressional Budget Office has already said Social Security will be paying out more than it gets by 2016. 

In the meantime, I thought I would highlight some of the better quotes from the debate.

Newt Gingrich quoting Ronald Reagan, “Turn up the light for the people so they can turn the heat up on Congress.”

Jon Huntsman on Mitt Romney on Social Security, “Gov. Romney called it a fraud.  Don’t know if that was written by Kurt Cobain.”  Kurt Cobain?  As in Nirvana?  Hmmm.

Michelle Bachmann, “It’s easy to turn around this economy.”  You don’t really think that, do you?

Jon Huntsman, “We have a heroin like addiction to foreign oil.”

Newt Gingrich, “We can balance the Federal Budget.  Be smart rather than cheap and actually modernize the Federal Government.”

Are 8 minds always better than 1?

Are 8 minds always better than 1?

Politicians are breaking out all over this week as the 2012 Presidential Election is officially on.  First, there was the Republican Presidential Debate hosted by Brian Williams at the Ronald Reagan Library.  Then Obama’s pitch to Congress to pass his more than 400 billion dollar job creation package NOW.   You can go deep on both by following the links below and in the Daily Dose but just to get your attention – did anyone else notice that Michelle Bachmann wore the same blouse in Simi Valley that she wore for the debates in New Hampshire?  (A nod to austerity or a suspicion her campaign was about to be short lived?) Or that Ron Paul’s stylist needs to tell him to pull the seat of his jacket down so the gap between the back of his neck and the collar of his jacket isn’t an even wider gulf than the US debt?  I admit we have far bigger problems to worry about but on a totally superficial note, there seemed to be a “too worried to pay a tailor or stylist” air to the whole line of ’em.. 

So, who won the Republican debate?  I think it was Mitt Romney – and not by a little but by a lot.  Romney is fighting … and finally cutting through.  He looked positively presidential next to a slightly goofy Rick Perry who was beaming and giving the thumbs up, a little like an 11 year old being praised by his teacher, when Romney mentioned his book, “Fed Up.”  Perry is telegenic and came out slugging but never seemed as cerebral or convincing as Mitt Romney.  His arguments about job creation in Texas did fall flat when you consider his state also has among the largest populations without health insurance and that no other state has as many workers making at or below minimum wage.  And if Americans already thought Republicans were mean, I don’t think it helped when Rick Perry told Brian Williams he hasn’t lost any sleep over the 234 criminals executed under his watch as governor of Texas… and the crowd broke out in cheers!  The exchange that everybody loved was when Perry told Romney Michael Dukakis created jobs 3 times faster than he did and Romney shot right back, “Well, George Bush created them a lot faster in Texas than you did.”  That’s the Romney people have been waiting to see.  Just for fun, I went back and watched the New Hampshire debates and Romney was practically mute that night compared to this debate’s “Mitt This” approach.

The “not wild enough to be a wild card” Jon Huntsman continues to be a favorite if for no other reason, because he is so earnest.  I loved when he beefed up his internationalism by saying he would like to address the Chinese people with a speech he would give in China IN CHINESE.  He also gets kudos for being a Republican who takes global warming seriously – something his rival Romney doesn’t.  And Huntsman gets points for chiding Romney about his aggressive stance on renegotiating trade deals by saying, “It might not be a good idea to start a trade war in the middle of a recession.”

As far as Pawlenty and Santorum, I’m afraid they are morphing into the same candidate for me.  The whole time Gingrich was talking, I couldn’t get the song, “I’m still Standing” out of my head!  He has a sort of pasty, days of old look on his face but if you get past his likeability factor, he is saying some really smart things, like that this campaign has to be about more than the Presidency, it has to be about electing legislators who will support the President’s agenda to address our economic woes.  And that NASA needs to get out of the way and let private industry innovate and execute the future of space.  And you can mock Herman Cain’s candidacy but you have to appreciate his one liners.  I’m still laughing at “the Stimulus Plan didn’t stimulate diddly.”  But I loved last night’s 9-9-9 tax plan (9% income tax, 9 % corporate tax, 9% sales tax) because if 10% is good enough for God, 9 percent should be good enough for the Federal Government.