Tony Geary had this terrific idea for a TV movie: It would be called "End Game," but it wouldn't have to do with chess.
"It would be about a TV quiz show of the future," said Geary. "The winners would get $1 million a year for life. The losers would be killed on the air for the amusement of the audience. It would be a black comedy."
Hmm, said the network censors, unamused. Got any other ideas?
Well, how about a story about a fake, an impostor who worms his way into a job as a school principal to be near his lost love, who's now a teacher. Things get complicated when he has to come to terms with typical, real-life high school problems, like drugs and violence.
Hmm. Sounds promising.
We could get a spiffy featured co- star like Billy Dee Williams to play the con artist's partner. Gloria Monty, the producer from "General Hospital," helped cook up the idea, and she could be the executive producer.
Sounds solid. Got a title?
How about "The Great Impostor"?
Nope. Tony Curtis did that in 1960.
How about "The Snowman"?
Sounds like a Christmas story. Or maybe a drug addict.
Okay. Let's call it "The Impostor."
The line of potential buyers will form at 8 p.m. Thursday in front of the ABC ticket window.
The movie will bring to the small screen two very large attractions. Billy Dee Williams, who is also doing a turn on "Dynasty" these days, reinforces his increased presence on television.
And Geary, who is back on "General Hospital" for a six-week stint after a hiatus, takes a crack at prime time.
"The last year has been busier and more lucrative than the five years with 'General Hospital,'>" he said. His most recent endeavor was to play the central character in "Jesus Christ Superstar" in a Sacramento production. He's now assembling a company with an eye toward taking the show on the road.
Geary reported for more "GH" duty wearing the beard he grew to play Jesus, an earring and a tiny ponytail that he called a rat tail. "When I was doing Jesus, I lived like a monk," he cracked. "Now I've gone back to debauchery."
He persuaded the producers of "General Hospital" to let him reappear with a different look. "Ten months ago Luke Spencer left Port Charles on a world tour," said Geary. "Now he returns with a beard. I fantasize that he's been on a treasure hunt and is being chased by federales from Mexico, where he was framed for murder."
But tell us about the debauchery -- his lifestyle stock in trade, if you believe the fan magazines.
"My life is pretty much a circus," he said, referring to what is written about him. His parents, he said, have gotten used to the idea that they're likely to read most anything about their son while waiting at the supermarket checkout counter. He accepts it too and knows that there will be a constant run of stories about whom he's supposedly sleeping with this week. But he has nonetheless carved out a private life that he guards closely. "I haven't been scandalized," he said of the publicity. "Mick Jagger said, 'I never deny anything. That's how legends are born.'>"
Geary became the object of all this nosiness nearly six years ago when Gloria Monty cast him as Luke Spencer in "General Hospital." They had worked together before, in such productions as "Bright Promise," an unfulfilled promise of a soap opera, and "Sorority Kill," a TV movie.
He's now trying to branch out in the entertainme business -- "I have no intention of being roped into TV only -- I want to do a full range of work . . . There's a place for me, whether it's as a lead or as a journeyman actor, I'll be there. Until I drop." There is, he said, no anxiety over where the next part is coming from or what it will be. "I was a journeyman before taking the role as Luke Spencer," he said. "I took the part as a job, for the money. It could have been Luke Spencer or Hamlet -- I'd approach it with the same passion."
The passion shows too in the peek Geary allows into his personal life. He was raised as a Mormon but rejected it at age 8 or 9. "It was too repressive," he said. "I think I'm waiting for spacecraft or something.
"My life has been bizarre. I follow my instincts to a degree no one I know does. If I get up depressed and with nothing to do for a couple of days, I'll go to the airport and get on a plane." To where? "Anywhere to change the environment." Such as?
"I just spent two weeks in a jungle camp in the Amazon," he said. "I felt so at home there it was frightening. And that's about as much of my personal life as I want to go into."