Rush to Reagan


CBS lobbed a hot potato to Showtime’s new president, Robert Greenblatt, who rushed controversial made-for-television movie The Reagans onto the schedule: "Everyone has made so many pronouncements about the movie, it didn’t make sense to withhold it."

Showtime announced last week that the three-hour film (originally planned as a two-part miniseries) will debut next Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, instead of sometime in 2004 as initially planned.

The accelerated schedule let Showtime play off the fresh controversy but gave the net just two weeks to promote the $10 million movie. The network hastily put together a marketing blitz that will include on-air promos, as well as network and spot ads on Viacom-owned Infinity Radio and Westwood One radio networks. It also rushed ads in time to meet print deadlines.

A billboard blitz is coming in New York and Los Angeles. Showtime wouldn’t comment on the marketing budget, but Greenblatt said it is above average for an original movie. It’s just that it spent the money faster.

As promised, Showtime will air a live on-air forum with historians, politicians and journalists as a companion piece. But the forum, hosted by former CNN anchor Frank Sesno, won’t air until the following night Dec. 1.