Imagine the Speaker of the House as "J.R. Ewing," star of TV's "Dallas" show. Imagine his Chevy Chase Tudor home as a center of financial and sexual intrigue a la J.R.'s Texas Ranch.
Ann Beckett, a Hollywood scriptwriter seasoned by scandal writing -- she was one of three writers who wrote the second season of "Rich Man, Poor Man" -- is plotting a sophisticated soap opera set in the nation's capital.
It's the idea of Paul Brown, a 26-year-old actor and former campaign worker who dated White House chief of staff Hamilton Jordan's former wife, Nancy. ("Good friends," is the way Nancy Jordan prefers to describe their relationship.) As a University of Texas student, Brown says he worked for Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential campaign and then began visiting Washington regularly as a public relations man for a Houston trucking company. After working for a losing gubernatorial and senatorial candidates in Texas, Brown moved to Malibu and landed small acting parts on television series.
"I got a feel for how movie stars are impressed with people in Washington and vice versa -- they're both kind of in awe of each other," says Brown, who convinced a Universal Studios vice president that a D.C. soap might be a hit. In his capacity as "creative consultant," Brown showed Beckett around Washington last month.
Brown suggests the pilot show may be built around a powerful D.C. family who owns a local sports team or newspaper, perhaps with a son-in-law who is a senator. But that's Beckett's job, and if she needs any appropriate background music to write by, she only has to summon her husband, Jerrold Immel. He wrote the theme music for "Dallas."