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Commentary & Opinion
HBO's "Angels in America" Could Provoke "Bloody" Debate Over Reagan's Handling of AIDS Epidemic, Opinion Piece Says

November 17, 2003

HBO's adaptation of Tony Kushner's play "Angels in America," the first segment of which is set to air on Dec. 7, is a "searing indictment of how the Reagan administration's long silence stoked the plague of AIDS in the 1980s" and "[i]f [it] reaches an audience typical for HBO hits, it could detonate a ... bloody" debate over former President Reagan's policies, New York Times arts columnist Frank Rich writes in a Times review. The debate could be more heated than the debate over "The Reagans," the CBS documentary that recently was canceled largely because of "outrage" over a quote about AIDS attributed to Reagan, which said, "They that live in sin shall die in sin," according to Rich. When "Gary Bauer and his peers ... complained that it is unfair to revisit the Reagan story when Reagan can no longer speak in his own defense, they ignored the tens of thousands of casualties from that time who also have no voice," Rich says, adding, "On screen, 'Angels in America' speaks for those silenced thousands far more eloquently than any of those defending the Reagan record on AIDS has yet spoken for the former president." Rich concludes, "Neither CBS nor those who intimidated it can suppress the story of just what happened in America in the 1980s, a time when too many died in secret and too many of those who might have helped looked away" (Rich, New York Times, 11/16).

Newsweek Features Interview With Director, Cast of 'Angels'
The Nov. 17 issue of Newsweek featured an interview with "Angels in America" director Mike Nichols, Kushner and cast members Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Justin Kirk and Emma Thompson (Ansen/Peyser, Newsweek, 11/17). A transcript of the interview is available online.

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