April 6, 2007

LIFE IMITATES ART IMITATES LIFE:

Fred Thompson would be a law and order candidate: Speculation builds as actor and politician considers presidential run. (Tina Daunt, April 6, 2007, LA Times)

Thompson has played a district attorney (currently on "Law & Order"), an FBI agent, a detective, a White House chief of staff, a CIA director, a lieutenant colonel, a rear admiral, a major general, some guy named "Big John" in Tom Cruise's "Days of Thunder," and a U.S. president.

And the real-life résumé isn't too shabby either: special counsel on the Watergate hearings, senator from Tennessee, consultant to Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.

Now for his latest role: serious 2008 presidential contender?

Ever since Thompson told Fox's Chris Wallace on March 11 that he was thinking about running for president, the political wags have been busy handicapping the possible candidacy of the socially conservative Republican. (And those pundits are more gossipy than Hollywood paparazzi.)

All this has made the Hollywood Democrats a bit envious -- Ronald Reagan, George Murphy, Arnold Schwarzenegger and now Thompson? It seems Republican celebs -- what few there are -- have all the luck.

"There's an irony in this whole thing," said Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman. "Democratic politicians love to come here and raise millions of dollars from the entertainment industry. Yet it's the Republicans -- by virtue of Reagan, Arnold and Fred -- who have figured out how to play candidate."

In many ways, Thompson is a politician who learned how to be an actor by simply playing himself. A big man with a deep baritone Dixie drawl, he exudes authority. Pro 2nd Amendment, he looks like a guy who could manage a crisis. And, according to television producer Dick Wolf, who cast Thompson in "Law & Order," he probably could.

"Look, I've met every president since Nixon," said Wolf, an independent who supported Bill Clinton. "When they focus their attention on you, it's like a light goes on. They have this unique ability to make you feel like you're the only one in the room.

"I don't know if it's a gift or a trick, but Fred's got it."

Wolf finds Thompson's potential candidacy interesting. He's even had conversations with him about it.

"We talked about it in the abstract," Wolf recounted. "I said, 'You should run.' He said, 'Really, why?' I said, 'Because I don't think there's anyone out there who can appeal to the base.' "

Wolf said he could easily see Thompson running and winning.

"When Fred Thompson walks in a room, people want to salute," Wolf said. "But beyond that, he's a remarkable consensus builder. He can see both sides of an issue.

"The character he plays in 'Law & Order,' as all successful characters are, is not too far from the mettle of the man."

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 6, 2007 9:16 AM
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