Hollywood is starting to be heard from on the presidential elections. First Warren Beatty stuck his foot in the water. Now rumor has it that Richard Dreyfuss might go for the prize, and there is even talk that Cybill Shepherd may decide to run.

Why the sudden interest by movie stars in our election system?

This might be the answer. Rock Luck Buck, one of the film industry's biggest stars, meets with his agent, Fog Murphy, at the Polo Lounge.

"What have you got for me?" Rock asks.

"I know this is going to sound weird, but the only thing that is open is president of the United States. It doesn't pay much, but the perks are fantastic--you have your own plane, Camp David and the Marine Band. It's a great opportunity for you until Steven Spielberg finishes his next script."

"Who else is up for the part?"

"Warren Beatty, Richard Dreyfuss and Charlton Heston. But I heard they want you. Rock, I think you should take it because it will give you tremendous exposure. You have charisma, and that is what it takes to play the role."

"I don't know. I think I can beat Gore, Bradley and Bush, but Warren Beatty will give me a tough time. Besides, what do I have to offer the people that Dan Quayle doesn't?"

"An Academy Award-winning performance. Remember when you did a remake of 'The Grapes of Wrath'? The people haven't forgotten that. And then there was 'Yankee Doodle Dandy,' when you played George M. Cohan's sidekick. And the fans still remember your scene on the beach with Deborah Kerr in 'From Here to Eternity.' Any one of those will beat Pat Buchanan in Iowa."

Rock says, "It sounds good, though I would prefer 10 percent of the gross from the U.S. foreign aid budget."

"What I haven't told you is that Barbra Streisand has agreed to sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' for you when you announce your candidacy at the Shrine Auditorium."

"It's true they laughed when Ronald Reagan announced he was going to run for office, but he won in a landslide. He opened it up for other actors who were out of work."

Fog says, "The American people have a lot of respect for actors who want to be president."

Rock replies, "At the moment I don't know whom I'd like to beat--Beatty, Dreyfuss or Shepherd. What I intend to do is wait for the polls' two thumbs up."

(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate