US pay-TV network Showtime has jumped in to acquire the television rights to The Reagans after its Viacom stablemate CBS bowed to Republican pary pressure and opted against airing the four-hour mini-series on Nov 16.

James Brolin andJudy Davis star as the former president Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy in the Sony Pictures Television project, which CBS head LeslieMoonves passed on after deciding it did not offer a balanced portrayal.

Showtime says it is now liaising with director Robert Allan Ackerman and producers CraigZadan and Neil Meron to "create a final film" that it will televise sometime in 2004, the year of the Presidential elections.

Acknowledging the controversy whipped up by the mini-series, Showtime said it was also planning an on-air forum in conjunction with the airing to provide a dialogue for viewers.

Showtime is no stranger toprovocative work and its roster of previous projects includes DC 9/11: TimeOf Crisis and Strange Justice, an account of the Clarence Thomas and Anita HillSupreme Court scandal.