Hollywood producer J. Herbert Klein is preparing to bring a story about Ronald Reagan to the screen – with a screenplay he considers ultra-high concept. “This is Ronald Reagan as people have never seen him before,” Klein said recently. “It’s a very appealing, compelling, uplifting story – with something for everyone.” The screenplay, which is currently in development, will be available for studio review in the early fall of 2011.
The story is based, in part, on material included in Klein’s recently published biography, RONALD REAGAN’S ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE: HOW HOLLYWOOD PREPARED AMERICA’S 4OTH PRESIDENT FOR THE WORLD STAGE, a book that has been called “Great” by John Shaffner, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
The book and screenplay have the benefit of Klein’s insider insights about the movie star who became America’s 40th president. Klein met Reagan when he reported for duty at a U.S. Army unit in Culver City, California, during WWII. At the time, Klein was a 21-year-old private and Reagan was his superior officer at the First Motion Picture Unit – established by Army General Henry “Hap” Arnold and Jack W. Warner, head of production at Warner Bros., to develop materials to train, instruct, educate, and motivate the troops.
At the unit, Reagan recognized Klein’s special skills as a draftsman and his experience working in an architectural firm – and put him in charge of a critical project that was a forerunner of a top-secret initiative instrumental in bringing the war to an end.
Klein appreciated the faith Reagan placed in him, and vowed to one day repay the favor. “Ronald Reagan gave me my start in the movie business,” said Klein, whose credits include producing the film noir classic Death of a Scoundrel for Howard Hughes, “so I decided to write a biography that told the story of his years in Hollywood. Now I want to put a portion of the book on the screen.”
With the upcoming screenplay on a little-known aspect of Reagan’s life, Klein hopes to get at the heart of why Reagan remains one of America’s most admired presidents.