The N.Y. Post‘s Emily Smith is reporting that Will Ferrell has courageously abandoned the idea of playing a dementia-afflicted Ronald Reagan in Mike Rosolio‘s Reagan, a satirical comedy about Reagan’s second term. A spokesperson for Ferrell, 48, essentially told Smith that while the 48-year-old actor “had seen the script and considered signing on” to star in and produce Reagan, he’s decided to turn tail and quit the project in the face of outraged complaints about the project from the Reagan family.

Ferrell spokesperson to Smith: “The Reagan script is one of a number of scripts that had been submitted to Will Ferrell which he had considered. While it is by no means an ‘Alzheimer’s comedy’ as has been suggested, Mr. Ferrell is not pursuing this project.”

I presume I don’t need to explain that Variety‘s Justin Kroll wouldn’t have been fed the “Ferrell is doing Reagan” story if the idea hadn’t been fully vetted by Ferrell and his team. Kroll might have heard about the project on the fly, but if I know Variety procedure the story wouldn’t have run if Kroll hadn’t been assured by someone close to Ferrell (agent, manager) that Ferrell was definitely on-board.

Perhaps Ferrell didn’t really sit down and read the Reagan script, which is widely admired within industry circles, but had just approved it conceptually? Possibly. Either way he obviously got the willies after the shit hit the fan.

From my 4.27 piece about the project: “The conventional description is that it’s basically about a dementia-afflicted Reagan during his second term. (The script begins in September ’84 and ends after the 40th President has left office in ’89.) Reagan is out to lunch a good half the time, but finds a new confidence and clarity of purpose when an intern named Frank persuades the former actor that he’s playing the part of a U.S. president.

“Reagan climaxes with the Iran-Contra scandal, which resulted in Reagan more or less admitting on TV that he didn’t remember approving the scheme.

“The point or payoff of Reagan is that all U.S. Presidents are totems, players of roles, figureheads, and that the guys who really run the show are the permanent, behind-the-scenes players. In Dr. Strangelove General Jack D. Ripper declared that ‘war is too important to be left to politicians.’ There’s a similar view espoused in Reagan: Democracy is too important to be left in the hands of the public.”