Inside the Beltway: Gipper casting

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Rip Torn, Richard Crenna and James Brolin are among the many actors who portrayed President Ronald Reagan in one Hollywood production or another. Now add Michael Douglas to the list. The veteran actor and loyal Democrat will play Reagan in “Reykjavik,” an independent film set during the 1986 summit between the president and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev in Iceland. Some bias could be lurking though. The $10 million film is from Participant Media, the production company behind “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore’s alarmist global-warming documentary.

“It’s less important who plays Reagan. It’s more important they get the facts straight,” Reagan biographer Craig Shirley tells Inside the Beltway.

Casting isn’t over yet, in the meantime. “The producers now are looking to find their Gorbachev,” says Tatiana Siegel, an industry analyst for the Hollywood Reporter.

THE GRAND FINALE

Three cheers: As one of their last acts, nimble officials at the Republican National Convention set up a fundraising program to help Red Cross relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac. No doubt, their very last act will be to start planning for 2016. Meanwhile, the show goes on to swift and final curtain call.

Before Mitt Romney takes the stage Thursday night to seal the deal, the high-profile, prime-time parade will include speechifying by Rep. Connie Mack of Florida; former House speaker Newt Gingrich and wife Callista; son Craig Romney; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Olympians Mike Eruzione, Derek Parra and Kim Rhode; and at long last headliner, Sen. Marco Rubio, who will introduce Mr. Romney around 10 p.m.

REPUBLICANS “AHEAD”

Party loyalists are gearing up for the great Democratic feel-good fest next week in Charlotte, N.C. But there’s worry afoot. Though former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean dismisses the Republican National Convention as “four days of Obama-bashing” in a new fundraising message, he also adds, “When the Republicans leave Tampa, it’s pretty likely they’ll be ahead in the horse race.”

It may be cheer-up time for Democrats who are already framing their convention as the ultimate example of community activism, which will certainly guarantee mawkish coverage from an adoring news media.

“While Republicans are ramping up the attacks and extremism, we’re doubling down on our grass-roots strategy. For us, the convention is an opportunity to share our message face to face with as many Americans as possible, culminating in a week of grass-roots action immediately after the president officially accepts the nomination,” Mr. Dean proclaims.

FOXIFIED

New research from the University of Missouri finds that 74 percent of Americas agree that journalists “play an important role in society,” while 62 percent prefer news stories “produced by a professional journalist.” Still, the nation is divided about the trust factor. About one-third actually trust journalists, one-third don’t and the rest are neutral.

Fox News viewers are the most discerning: Fifty percent said they don’t trust the media, far outpacing the sentiments of those who watch MSNBC, PBS, CNN and the broadcast networks by margins ranging from 21 to 40 percentage points. Fox also won the popularity derby.

“The influence of Fox News on the attitudes of U.S. adults regarding the mainstream news media and professional journalists cannot be overlooked. Fox News was identified by the most respondents as their favorite national TV news channel. CNN was a close second,” the study said.

THE PARTISAN VIEWER

Which popular TV shows attract Republicans and Democrats? What with all the potential advertising revenue before the presidential election, Experian, a research marketing group, is carefully gauging what programs draw viewers of specific political and ideological beliefs. Here’s the top-five shows for certain intriguing voting blocs:

Ultra Conservatives: ESPN’s College Football Regular Season followed by PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow,” NBC’s “Today With Kathie Lee and Hoda,” ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and CBS’s “NCIS.”

Mild Republicans: CBS’s “Rules of Engagement,” followed by Discovery Channel’s “Sons of Guns,” History Channel’s “Brad Metzler’s Decoded,” FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” and Comedy Central’s “TOSH.O”

Super Democrats: Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” followed by Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” NBC’s “30 Rock,” Showtime’s “Shameless” and ABC’s “Modern Family.”

On the Fence Liberals: BBC America’s “Graham Norton Show” followed by Adult Swim’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” BBC America’s “Top Gear,” Comedy Central’s “TOSH.O” and Fox’s “American Dad.”

JUAN’S ADVICE TO ANN

After his observation that Ann Romney was a “corporate wife” who is taken care of by her husband, Fox News analyst Juan Williams caught the wrath of Fox anchor Chris Wallace, not to mention the public and the Romney campaign. He quickly reframed his comment, noting that he was reacting to the speech, not Mrs. Romney.

“Where the speech lost me was in her representation that the Romneys could understand the struggle of the average American family because they, too, had struggled,” Mr. Williams said in a follow-up blog.

“My criticism is about the economic angle of the speech. The most effective political approach to me — as a political analyst — would have been for Mrs. Romney to say that she knows she is fortunate, knows she blessed and she wants the best for others too,” he observed. “That message is the perfect counter to any thoughts that her husband is out of touch with the lives of average Americans. It would have put the issue of their wealth in proper perspective as the American Dream and conveyed that they feel blessed to be in position to help others.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 44 percent of U.S. voters have a favorable impression of the Republican Party.

• 85 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 10 percent of Democrats agree.

• 50 percent of whites, 48 percent of men, 39 percent of women and 24 percent of “non-whites” agree.

• 43 percent of voters overall have a favorable impression of the Democratic Party.

• 8 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents and 87 percent of Democrats agree,

• 33 percent of whites, 36 percent of men, 50 percent of women and 75 percent of “non-whites” agree.

Source: A USA Today/Gallup poll of 955 registered U.S. voters conducted Aug. 20-23.

Curtain calls, opening acts to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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