- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Variety magazine is reporting that Sarah Jessica Parker and TV writer Vanessa Taylor are cooking up a half-hour comedy series for HBO based on the notoriously sleazy assignations of Jessica Cutler, trash novelist, former online sex-diarist, tireless self-promoter.

“Taylor and Parker are just beginning to flesh out how to bring ‘Washingtonienne’ to the small screen, but Taylor predicted the final result will be ‘a controversial character,’” according to the Variety write-up.

Good luck, gals.

I’ll bet you a New York Strip and a bottle of red: If it ever makes it out of development, “Washingtonienne” will fail - just like Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney’s HBO hobbyhorse “K Street” just like Lawrence O’Donnell’s dung-pile “Mister Sterling” and just like the “MTV meets the ‘West Wing’” fantasy “D.C.

For whatever reason - naivete, cynicism, or some noxious combination thereof - Hollywood nearly always can be counted on to make a mess of its fantastical depictions of our capital city. More importantly, though, I think average American TV-watchers can stomach only so much “Melrose”-ian reductionism when it comes to Washington-based dramas. They suspect, rightly, I think, that this place is more than just “showbiz for ugly people,” more than just the sum of its sexual passions and wheeler-dealing. There are ideas - and ideals - at play here, too, and it seems to me that Hollywood rarely gets that balance right.

The just-concluded series “The West Wing” and the movie “The American President” probably came closest - and not only for the reason I just cited.

As I wrote in a piece about the then-soon-to-debut “K Street,” “Presidential dramas such as ‘The West Wing’ TV series and ‘The American President’ feature film, have fared far better, lending themselves as they do to global thrills and personality cult.”

Put simply, it’s much easier to wring coherent drama when you’re focusing on one very powerful man (“Madame President,” didn’t fly, did she?), as opposed to one senator or one congressman - or, worse, their interns.

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