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Showtime Pivots to Documentaries, Orders ‘The Reagans’

"The Reagans," directed by Matt Tyrnauer, will examine the highs and lows of President Ronald Reagan's time in the Oval Office.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan as host of “The General Electric Theater”

CBS/The Everett Collection

Showtime is bulking up its programming slate with a slew of documentaries to offer viewers now content as the ongoing pandemic continues to put Hollywood’s film and television productions on hold. The premium cabler has picked up Matt Tyrnauer’s “The Reagans” and is making plans to air a handful of documentaries in its Sunday primetime slot in the summer.

Variety reported that “The Reagans,” a four-part documentary about Ronald Reagan’s presidency, will examine what happened behind the closed doors and in the halls of the West Wing from 1981 through 1989. The docuseries does not have a release date and hasn’t been confirmed to air on Showtime during a Sunday primetime slot. Vinnie Malhotra, Showtime’s executive vice president of nonfiction programming, told the publication that the project would examine the high points of Reagan’s presidency, as well as the more controversial elements of his time in office.

“You’re going to get the palace intrigue, as much as you’re going to get the nuts and bolts of what happened through those years,” Malhotra said in the Variety article. “And so, it is a very human look at the years of the Reagans and what led up to those years, what took place in behind the walls during those eight years and really told through a lot of the inner circle and the people that I think were a part of all of the highs and lows of that time period in American politics.”

A Showtime representative confirmed Variety’s report to IndieWire.

“The Reagans” is part of a broad strategy by Showtime to promote new documentaries on the network. Showtime, like most other Hollywood players, has been widely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced production shutdowns for the last few months. While Showtime’s Sunday roster currently includes scripted shows such as “Billions” and “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels,” come July 5, the network will begin moving docuseries and documentary features to that timeslot, starting with “Outcry,” a five-part series about high school footballer Greg Kelly’s controversial conviction.

Showtime is also gearing up to release documentaries such as “Love Fraud” and “Belushi,” which will hit the network on August 30 and September 27, respectively.

“While we’re waiting on [production to resume], I think that it’s been a terrific opportunity to continue to raise the profile of nonfiction and to highlight some of the tremendous work and storytelling that’s taking place out there,” Malhotra said in the Variety article. “We were already in discussion about strategies along these lines. But this has kind of accelerated the idea that we are going to take some of our really strong, really exciting upcoming nonfiction projects, whether they’re series or features, and start to move them into scheduling slots that I think had traditionally been reserved for scripted dramas or comedies.”

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