Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"She's Not Ann Coulter. She's Not Insane"

Another in a series of efforts by liberal media people trying to understand, portray, and make money from conservatives:

'Ally McBeal' Star to Play Conservative Pundit in New TV Series

NEW YORK ABC reportedly has huge hopes for a new series to air this fall called "Brothers & Sisters," which will follow the hit "Desperate Housewives" on the schedule. Calista Flockhart, best known as Ally McBeal, plays a conservative radio host turned TV pundit. Others in the high-powered cast include Patricia Wettig, Rachel Griffiths, Ron Rifkin and Sally Field.

Flockhart recently explained, "I really want to go back to work. It just seemed like the perfect time and the perfect project."

Asked to describe the pundit, producer Ken Olin (formerly a star of “Thirty Something’) said, "She's not Ann Coulter. She's not insane."Writer Jon Robin Baitz added, "No, I think she's a thoughtful conservative. She's ideologically, in some respects, very much in mind with the older parts of the party, the sort of Eisenhower Republican, the William Buckley conservative. She's also a humanist."

She's not someone who is apologetic about being a conservative. But it's very, very interesting and compelling to us to try and understand this, to leave behind some of the smug presuppositions of the two coasts, . . . to look at evolving patriotism and evolving traditionalism," he said, according to an article by Dave Walker of New Orleans’ Times-Picayune.

"For years and years, the left has looked at the right in complete incomprehension and felt, 'We just can't connect.' And maybe there's an effort in the show to try and bridge that in some way.”

Sally Field plays Flockhart’s mother.

I dunno. Could be good. Could be a stinker. I was not an Alley McBeal fan, but I'll be TIVOing the first few episodes.

It's interesting that they are attempting to skirt the social conservative issue (smart move in my opinion) by writing the lead as an "Eisenhower Republican." It does cause a big hit in the series's premises's believability. How many "Eisenhower Republicans" are hits on the talk radio venue?

I wonder if they will be able to capture the motivation of a conservative without descending into farce or lame parody. I wonder how they will portray the tension between the "Country Club" and populist conservatives?

There are a lot of funny conservative people out there, such as Jonah Goldberg, Rob Long, P.J. O'Rourke, et cetera. I wonder if they are going to tap into these rich veins, or go for the predictable yocks. What makes me think that this is going to be a sitcom rather than a series drama?

It would be a gutsy move to write a conservative character that the either loves and identifies with or hates to love (in the mold of Dabney Coleman's Buffalo Bill) , but the former would threaten their concept of their audience and the latter would threaten their bottom line.

As an aside, how many overtly politically conservative roles have there been in American television?
Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) on Family Ties.
Ainsley Hayes (Emily Procter) on West Wing.
Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda ) on West Wing.

Three names and all start with "A." I can't think of many more.

UPDATE: Someone over at The Corner makes some points about the series's cognative dissonance that I am too young to remember:
Re: the new ABC series that has Calista "Ally McBeal" Flockhart playing a "conservative radio host turned television pundit." I think it's uproariously funny to see how the entertainment industry portrays conservatives. The show's writer Jon Robin Baitz says that she's a "thoughtful conservative" and that "[s]he's ideologically, in some respects, very much in mind with the older parts of the party, the sort of Eisenhower Republican, the William Buckley conservative. She's also a humanist." Uh, last time I checked Bill Buckley didn't think much of Eisenhower, Jon-Jon. And no respectable conservative who came of age during the Reagan Revolution would ever describe himself as a "humanist." Other than that, it sounds like a riveting series. Will anyone give me odds on whether this show actually lasts an entire season? See all of you "humanists" later!
Are we looking at another Commander in Chief? I fear so.

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