Although I watch few TV sitcoms, I've looked in on one because the main female character reminds me of an old friend.
Maybe you've seen the show. It's called "Hearts Afire," and is on CBS on Monday nights.
The female star is called Georgie Anne Lahti. She is blond, wears bangs and is a newspaper journalist.
It happens that my old friend is named Georgie Anne Geyer, who is blond, used to wear bangs and is a real-life newspaper journalist.
Ms. Geyer and I were both hired as young reporters by the Chicago Daily News in 1959. We've been pals since.
In the TV show, Georgie Anne Lahti is originally from Chicago.
L In real life, Georgie Anne Geyer is originally from Chicago.
In the TV show, Georgie Anne Lahti moved from Chicago to become a foreign correspondent and ended up in Washington.
In real life, Georgie Ann Geyer moved from Chicago to become a foreign correspondent and ended up in Washington.
In the TV show, Georgie Anne Lahti is a globe-hopping correspondent, and has interviewed and knows many world leaders.
In real life, Georgie Anne Geyer, as a globe-hopping foreign correspondent and columnist, and has interviewed and knows many world leaders.
In the TV show, Georgie Anne Lahti wrote a widely acclaimed biography of Fidel Castro.
In real life, Georgie Anne Geyer wrote a widely acclaimed biography of Fidel Castro.
There are other similarities, but you get the idea: The fictional TV Georgie Anne has to be based on the real-life Georgie Anne.
And that wouldn't be difficult for the script-writers. They wouldn't even have to talk to the real Georgie Anne to get details of her life. All they'd have to do is read her fine autobiography, "Buying the Night Flight."
So why am I telling you all this?
Mainly, so you will know -- if you hadn't already guessed -- that some really crummy, unscrupulous people work in the television industry.
See, the real Georgie Anne is not happy with the TV sitcom Georgie Anne.
For one thing, the TV Georgie Anne -- while a talented journalist -- is a bit of a floozy. While researching her book on Fidel Castro, she apparently spent considerable time in bed with him.
The real life Georgie Anne doesn't gather her facts that way.
And in most of the show's segments, the TV Georgie Anne seems to be romping in bed at every opportunity. Or if she isn't romping, she's talking about past romps.
This troubles the real-life Georgie Anne. While not a prude, she has spent about 30 years building a reputation as one of the top foreign correspondents in the world. And she didn't do it by being a journalistic version of Madonna.
The real-life Georgie Anne is a brilliant, respected expert in foreign affairs, who writes a column that appears in 120 newspapers, has authored important books and magazine articles. Along the way, she's put her life on the line more than once.
She has reason to be proud of her accomplishments. It wasn't easy. She broke into journalism when the few women on newspapers covered cooking, fashion or society.
So along come these TV people who need an outline for a TV character. First they take the name -- Georgie Anne -- which most people would agree is not a common handle. How many Georgie Annes do you know?
They take the blond-bangs looks, some personal background and many professional accomplishments. But since show biz is show biz, they turn her into a bimbo.
It isn't inconceivable that readers, editors and government officials might see the TV show and ask: "Hey, that's our Georgie Anne Geyer. Is she really a floozy?"
Did the TV producers ask if they could use the real Georgie Anne that way? Not only did they not ask, they loftily deny that their TV Georgie Anne is in any way based on the real-life Georgie Anne. A mere coincidence, yuck, yuck.
Not to butter you up, but most of my readers are logical. So let me pose this question: If you were a Chicago-born blond named Georgie Anne, had built an international reputation as a foreign correspondent and columnist, and had written an important book about Fidel Castro, and you turned on your TV and saw a lewd sitcom about a Chicago-born blond named Georgie Anne who built a national reputation as a foreign correspondent and had written an important book about Fidel Castro, wouldn't you say something like: "Hey, what the hell's going on?"
I'll tell you who these sleazy TV producers are, since you'll probably become familiar with them during the next four years.
They're a Hollywood couple named Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. Very rich and successful. Beyond that, they have enormous political clout.
They are part of Bill Clinton's innermost circle. They helped shape his and Hillary's public images and created the highly effective "Man from Hope" propaganda film shown at the Democratic Convention. They're close chums and you'll hear more about them because they are the Clintons' show biz connection.
In Washington, they are already big names, the kind of instant powers who will be fawned over and gawked at during the inauguration glitz.
What informal roles will they play during the Clinton administration?
As we know, it can become necessary for presidents to tell lies. Sometimes for alleged national security purposes, but more often to protect their hides.
So if Clinton feels the need to tell a lie but isn't quite sure how to do it, he can consult the Thomasons.
They've already established their credentials.