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by JIM RUTENBERG and BILL CARTER
Wednesday, Nov. 05, 2003 at 8:02 AM
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Under pressure from Republican and conservative groups, CBS is expected to announce as early as today that it is canceling its plans to run a two-part mini-series in November deconstructing the Ronald Reagan presidency, two people close to the decision said last night.
They said the film would most likely instead be handed over to CBS's pay-cable sibling, Showtime.
The announcement would perhaps the first time a major broadcast network has ever removed a completed project from its schedule because of political pressure and under the threat of an advertising boycott.
(An earlier article about the possibility that CBS would scrap the four-hour mini-series appears in the Arts section, which went to press before the latest development.)
CBS executives have been reworking the film over the last week, trying to fix what many critics - none of whom had seen the film and were relying mostly on a report in The New York Times about its contents - called inaccurate and unfair portrayals of the former president.
The CBS chairman, Les Moonves, became concerned amid those complaints and ordered a revision of the film, several people close to the process said.
Showtime, which like CBS is a division of Viacom, does not have the same advertising and ratings concerns as does the broadcast network. With a mission to garner enough water-cooler talk to draw new subscribers, premium pay cable networks like Showtime are less concerned with their overall ratings pictures and thus less susceptible to boycott threats.
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