CNN is set to document Ronald Reagan’s White House and offer insights into the 40th American presidency in an archive-based project from CNN Films, Impact Partners and Artemis Rising Foundation.
Directed by Pacho Velez and Sierra Pettengill, The Reagan Show will provide an exclusive look into Reagan’s eight years in the White House, from his inauguration in January 1981 and pardoning turkeys in the Rose Garden, to negotiating arms reductions with former Soviet statesman Mikhail Gorbachev, and his departure in January 1989.
The all-archival film will provide perspective on the dramatic history and pageantry of the Reagan years by focusing on the geopolitical rivalry between America and the Soviet Union, as Reagan was challenged on the world stage by the charismatic new Soviet leader.
The Reagan Show juxtaposes network news coverage and footage filmed by the U.S. Naval Photographic unit, called “WHTV.” The WHTV material was preserved by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
“We went through nearly 1,000 hours of footage, and think that this all-archival approach allows for an exciting insight into the tools of performance that Reagan employed,” said Velez and Pettengill in a joint statement.
“Substantively and stylistically, Ronald Reagan was perhaps the most skilled communicator-in-chief of our modern era,” added Amy Entelis, executive VP for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide. “Pacho and Sierra have made an impressive and extensively-researched film that demonstrates how essential media communication skills are to a president’s success and legacy.”
The Reagan Show will premiere on CNN with back-to-back broadcasts on Sept. 4 at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT, and will also be made available for streaming across the CNNgo app beginning Sept. 4.
The fly-on-the-wall film will hold its premiere screening at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. ET, followed by a discussion with the co-directors, moderated by CNN’s Brian Stelter.
Directors Velez and Pettengill are alumni of CNN’s 2015 inaugural filmmakers’ retreat, which provides promising filmmaking talents with an annual workshop, master classes, mentorship and guidance. Hosted by Points North Institute, it was created in partnership with CNN Films, Tribeca Film Institute and Camden International Film Festival. The Reagan Show serves as the first coproduction to be acquired for broadcast by CNN Films from participants in that program.