"Your children are not safe anywhere, at any time."
That is one of the chilling statements of the Washington-area snipers that became a catch line used to draw viewers to "D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear," the made-for-TV movie based on the infamous case that first aired last Friday.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan said he grimaced through the first 20 minutes of the film, and could not help blurting out, "That didn't happen, that didn't happen," in each new scene.
Duncan, who was portrayed by actor Jay O. Sanders as a doting father living in a spacious Tudor-style mansion, was one of many key players watching with interest as the USA Network used the opening days of the first sniper trial to unveil its fictionalized account of the case. (It's worth noting that the film's executive producer, Orly Adelson, includes among her credits the MTV reality show, "Sorority Life.")
Police officials who watched said they found actor Charles Dutton's portrayal of the monotone-speaking former Chief Charles Moose surprisingly accurate. They sighed when Moose was shown commanding the troops at several sniper shooting crime scenes (that didn't happen). They rolled their eyes during Moose's emotional apex -- when he was shown gushing tears during a press conference. And they chuckled that the chief, a former bodybuilder who works hard to keep fit, was embodied by so portly an actor.
Duncan (D) said most of the conversations in the movie rang hollow -- for instance, when Moose is shown urging his boss to wear a bulletproof vest because he was a likely target, or when the County Council is shown bickering over whether to close schools, and one fictional council member says snidely that if the case is not solved quickly, "then I guess we'll be looking for a new chief."
Arguably the most embellished scene in the film involved the police breaking down the door of a man they mistakenly believed to be the sniper in the days before they made an arrest. It then shows Duncan watching as the suspect, a militia enthusiast, is interrogated.
Overall, on a scale of one to 10, with one being total fiction and 10 being pure fact, Duncan said he would rate the accuracy of the movie as a five.
"More than anything," he said, " I just kept thinking, 'Wow, I wish I had that house.' "
Duncan's Annual Bash
Has Statewide Feel
Duncan had a heavy turnout at his 13th annual birthday party/family picnic/fundraiser at Smokey Glen Farm in Gaithersburg Sunday.
The country-style political event, with hayrides and hot dogs, made no specific mention of Duncan's ambitions. The blue and white signs and bumper stickers posted around the park simply read: "DUNCAN."
But this year's picnic took on more of a statewide flavor. Guests included state Sen. Lisa A. Gladden (D-Baltimore) and former Maryland transportation secretary John Porcari, as well as a broad array of area lawmakers.
State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler, former delegate Mark Shriver, and county Democratic Party activist Stanton Gildenhorn all turned up. So did two top candidates for the vacant police chief job: former Maryland State Police superintendent David Mitchell and Montgomery County Assistant Police Chief John King.
But in his remarks to the group, Duncan made no big announcements about his plans for the political future. The three-term executive's impending run for governor, apparently, is still under wraps.
Hits a Grand Slam
Conspicuous by her absence at an evening meeting in Long Branch last Thursday was County Council member Marilyn Praisner (D-Eastern County), the only member of the council's Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee not to show up to discuss the community's revitalization efforts.
But committee chairman Steven A. Silverman (D-At Large) let her off the hook. No, the New York Yankees fan was not home watching her team in the deciding game of the American League Championship Series. Instead, Silverman said, Praisner was again becoming a grandmother. "We give that an excused absence," he announced to the audience. "She didn't have to bring a note in."
"The note should come from my daughter-in-law," Praisner laughed on Monday, still sounding giddy over the birth of her fourth grandchild. Baby Madison arrived Thursday about 11:20 p.m. at Greater Laurel Hospital and weighed in at 8 pounds 12 ounces.
"I got a granddaughter and a Yankees win all in the same night," Praisner said.