EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that the Motion Picture Association Of America representing the Hollywood movie studios will be co-hosting a tribute to Ronald Reagan’s film career on November 14th in Washington DC. The other host will be the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration, which is the year-long commemoration of Reagan’s 100th birthday in 2011. All the movie studios are obtaining old footage of Reagan’s 53-movie legacy from 1937 to 1965 and are putting together around 5 cinematic profiles of the former Screen Actors Guild president for the bipartisan event. But I suspect the real reason behind this Reagan tribute is to remind the Republican Party going into this election that Reagan was part of Hollywood. After all, the GOP and showbiz are barely on speaking terms these days, and recently the MPAA hired former Democratic Senator Chris Dodd to head the Hollywood lobbying organization even though certainly the House and likely the Senate and maybe even the White House, too, will be under Republican control in 2012. But the MPAA, which bills itself as the voice and advocate of the American motion picture industry, needs to continue to enlist the U.S. government’s help in fighting piracy overseas as well obtaining tax breaks for Big Media. The Hollywood studios participating in the tribute consist of the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (owned by Walt Disney Co), Paramount Pictures Corporation (owned by Viacom), Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc (owned by Sony Corp), Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (owned by News Corp), Universal City Studios LLC (owned by Comcast), and Warner Bros Entertainment Inc (owned by Time Warner).
Just to remind you, Reagan grew up in Illinois, attended college, and became a radio sports announcer (“Dutch” Reagan) until he moved to California after a screen test in 1937 won him a Warner Bros contract in Hollywood. Commissioned as a cavalry officer after the outbreak of WWII, Reagan was assigned to the Army Air Force’s First Motion Picture Unit making mostly training films in Los Angeles. He was typecast as the affable friend in mostly B movies and never reached the pinnacle of filmdom, despite many memorable roles like Knute Rockne – All American (1940) and Kings Row (1942) and Hasty Heart (1950). His tenure as SAG president was marked by controversy (more…)