With 'Dragon Fire,' Can Cohen Slay Hollywood?

William Cohen
Bill Cohen hopes "Dragon Fire" has movie possibilities. (Andrew Harrer -- Bloomberg News)

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, September 28, 2006

Former defense secretary Bill Cohen is an expert on Washington, but he's a rookie when it comes to Hollywood. The author of "Dragon Fire" knows all the power players of Capitol Hill, the White House and Pentagon, but missed the perfect chance to team up with megabucks producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

Shortly after he left the Clinton administration in 2001, Cohen and his wife, Janet Langhart , wrote a proposal for a television series set in the Pentagon-- think "West Wing" goes to Arlington. They called it "E-Ring," a DOD insider term for the Pentagon's outer offices, and sent it to their agent. No bites. Two years ago, they flew to L.A. and pitched it to several studios, while Bruckheimer ("Top Gun," "The Amazing Race," "CSI") shopped a similar Pentagon-based show. Cohen's proposal went nowhere; Bruckheimer's turned up on NBC's 2005 schedule with a familiar name: "E-Ring." Cohen thinks someone at NBC nabbed his title: "It's hard to protect an idea."

Bruckheimer's rep said his version was inspired by a visit to the Pentagon in 2004, and wasn't aware of Cohen's proposal until after the show aired. "Had he known about Bill's project, he would have gone with [it]," said spokesman Paul Bloch. (Probably should have: "E-Ring" was canceled after one season.) Ah, the what-ifs . . .

Cohen has higher hopes for "Dragon Fire." His 10th book is a geopolitical thriller (fictional defense secretary dies in anthrax attack, former POW modeled after John McCain hunts the bad guys) full of Inside-the-Beltway color. "It's the old axiom: You write what you know," says Cohen. "I don't have a lot of time for research."

Next up: in February, "Love in Black and White," a memoir authored with his wife about their interracial marriage. In the meanwhile, Cohen is in serious talks with producer Thomas Schuhly for a movie version of "Dragon Fire." And yes -- he's getting smarter about show business: "I've learned about copyrights," he said with a chuckle.

Red and Blue and Green All Over

We knew this would happen sooner or later -- Tuesday night, secluded Whitehaven Street in Northwest was clogged by dueling fundraisers. President Bush and Karl Rove mingled with donors at the home of White House social secretary Lea Berman and husband Wayne, raising $1.5 million for the GOP in Iowa, Arkansas and Wisconsin. Two doors down, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton presided over a low-key event for about 50 $2,000 donors to her senatorial reelection bid. Limo lock!

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

· Mya getting her hair flat-ironed at Bang Salon on U Street yesterday between a shopping trip and a workout. The D.C.-born singer-actress, who was in town visiting friends, tipped $30 on a $30 treatment.

· Bruce Willis , wearing baseball cap and jeans in downtown Baltimore, between takes while filming "Live Free or Die Hard." Huge blocks of Charm City are cordoned off for shooting these days. The Sun reported yesterday the star was spotted at the "business casual" Morton's wearing jeans and T-shirt.

SURREAL ESTATE

Seller: Jim Dunning

Asking price: $1.1 million

Details: For 15 years, this four-bedroom brick Colonial in Alexandria's trendy Del Ray neighborhood was the home of prominent real estate agent Nancy Dunning and her husband, the city's longtime elected sheriff. In December 2003, she was found shot to death in their home, in what remains one of Alexandria's most notorious unsolved murders. Jim Dunning, who ended the last of his five terms in office last year, still lives in the house and put it on the market early this month.

THIS JUST IN . . .

Two different men are claiming to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith 's newborn daughter. Howard K. Stern , a lawyer for the former Playboy model, told CNN's Larry King Tuesday that the baby is his -- which prompted photographer Larry Birkhead , who has made similar claims, to demand a DNA test yesterday, according to Us magazine.

Also yesterday, People reported that Smith's 20-year-old son, Daniel , who was found dead by her bedside in a Bahamas hospital three days after his sister's birth, was killed by a lethal combination of methadone and the antidepressants Lexapro and Zoloft. The magazine cited a pathologist hired by Smith.

THIS JUST IN . . .

Two different men are claiming to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith 's newborn daughter. Howard K. Stern , a lawyer for the former Playboy model, told CNN's Larry King Tuesday that the baby is his -- which prompted photographer Larry Birkhead , who has made similar claims, to demand a DNA test yesterday, according to Us magazine.

Also yesterday, People reported that Smith's 20-year-old son, Daniel , who was found dead by her bedside in a Bahamas hospital three days after his sister's birth, was killed by a lethal combination of methadone and the antidepressants Lexapro and Zoloft. The magazine cited a pathologist hired by Smith.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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