Ron Reagan, son of the former president of the United States, is set to write an editorial piece for Esquire magazine urging the end of the Bush administration.
Reagan co-hosted a panel discussion yesterday for The Creative Coalition, the non-partisan lobbying group, at the Sundance Film Festival along with "Lord of the Rings" star Sean Astin, the inimitable "Joey Pants," Joe Pantoliano, and actor Kevin Pollak.
Coincidentally, both Reagan's dad, Ronald, and Astin's mother, Patty Duke, were at one time presidents of the Screen Actors Guild. Of course, Reagan's dad was also president of this country, but in Hollywood that doesn't count as much.
Reagan has always been a vocal opponent of his father's political party, but never as much as he is now. He told me he will write an article of undetermined length for Esquire explaining why George W. Bush should not be re-elected.
One reason, I inferred, was that Bush has blocked stem-cell research for diseases such as Alzheimer's. Reagan is extremely clear about his feelings on this subject, since his father, who will turn 93 next month, has been felled by this insidious illness.
"It's unbelievable that Bush doesn't approve stem-cell research," Reagan said.
I also asked Reagan what he thought of the controversial TV movie, made by CBS but aired on Showtime recently, about his family.
"I saw it on tape," he said. "Someone sent it to me. I think my mother saw some clips from it. It looked to me like a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch. I mean, it was just so bad. And who cared? James Brolin did a terrible imitation of my father. Judy Davis is a good actress, but she's not my mother. The problem is that people made such a big deal out of it, but in the end it was nothing."
Reagan and I reminisced about the days in the early 1980s when he and his wife Doria, to whom he is still married, lived on my block in New York. The Secret Service took up a lot of parking spaces, which caused much grumbling.
"We left after 18 months," he said. "I never really liked living in New York. I'm much happier in the country."
As for the panel discussion, I have to say that Astin is turning into a very articulate and passionate newcomer on the celebrity political scene. Some of this may be attributed to his mother, Patty, who led the Screen Actors Guild through troubled times and won a lot of respect from her peers. We can expect him to make even more of an impression as the election year drags on.
More political legacy news from Sundance: Chris Lawford, the actor-producer son of the late actor Peter Lawford and Patricia Kennedy Lawford , is writing a book. He's signed a deal with HarperCollins to pen a memoir.
I'm told that certain members of the Kennedy clan weren't too thrilled to hear this news, but they can relax. Lawford is not writing a tell-all about anything or anyone. For instance, there will no scoops about Marilyn Monroe, who was linked to his father and to his uncles.
"That was all before my time," he told me at a Sundance party. "The book is about my life, and how I've seen it."
Lawford's agent showed his 40-page proposal to a dozen publishers, all of whom wanted it. But HarperCollins' Maureen O'Brien won out in the long run.
Lawford — whose acting career includes a long stint on "All My Children" — will write the book himself. If it's anything like the author himself, it should be thoughtful and substantial. I do hope there's a little bit about the Rat Pack in there!
One of the great, weird screenings in this year's Sundance festival has been Mark Brian Smith's indie film, "Overnight." It tells a very strange story that previously had only been movie-business lore.
In 1997, Miramax — possibly hoping to replicate its "Good Will Hunting" success — signed up a working-class, rough-around-the-edges writer/bartender named Troy Duffy. The company committed to producing Troy's script, called "The Boondock Saints." Miramax's Harvey Weinstein even helped Duffy buy the Hollywood bar he worked in and renamed it "Duffy's."
Sounds like a good story, right? At the same time that this was going on, Duffy agreed to let two filmmakers, Smith and Tony Montana, chronicle his rise through the business. Since Duffy envisioned himself an entrepreneur, he also started a rock band, attempted to get a label deal, and put Smith and Montana in charge of that project.
In the most hyperbolic terms, he vowed to become the biggest name in show business and convinced his pathetic followers — men who treated him as if he were Jim Jones without the Kool-Aid — that he was going to change their lives.
But then Miramax discovered what the "Overnight" audience can plainly see: Duffy is a sociopath. He is frightening and completely out of control. He treats his brother, Taylor , a possibly very talented musician, like dirt.
In short order, Duffy manages to turn everyone who knows him against him, including a slew of William Morris agents who pathetically attempt to appease him. He is the real-life equivalent of the Woody Harrelson character from "Wag the Dog": a Frankenstein monster who cannot be tamed.
Of course, Smith and Montana were still filming even while all of Duffy's projects collapsed. What they've put on film is a documentary that just about gave me and everyone else who saw "Overnight" real nightmares. "Overnight" was originally described as "anti-Miramax," but in fact, Weinstein — who is seen only briefly — comes across as unusually sympathetic, an actual victim of Duffy's insanity.
The people who really suffer here are real-life agents and other associates of the aborted "Boondock Saints" who strafe Weinstein and Miramax with profanities and obscenities when they realize their ship is sinking. These people will not only never eat lunch in this town again, they will be lucky to get snacks.
It's unclear whether anyone will ever show "Overnight" to the public. Square-jawed, handsome Smith and street-savvy Montana (who changed his name to the "Scarface" character) swear that they have all their signed releases and their "legal ducks are in a row."
At least one major William Morris agent who appears briefly in the film insists this isn't true. Will anyone want to take on what could turn into a big legal hassle?
I can only hope that one day "Overnight" gets a wide public viewing, if only to see Smith and Montana's incredibly painful adventure, and the spectacular way in which a really crazy person almost became a superstar — at least in his own mind.