Gov, American Style

And the Emmy for best ex-pol playing herself goes to . . . Ann Richards? Plus: Larry Hagman’s new Orleans .

WOULD YOU WATCH AN L.A. Law –style drama about the staff of a female governor from Texas? Fred Ellis and Monte Williams hope so—and so does Steven Spielberg . Ellis, who was Ann Richards ’ appointments director, and Williams, who was her press secretary during the 1990 campaign, have created just such a TV series for Spielberg’s Dreamworks SKG. The two have written a pilot and outlines for several shows, and much of what you’ll see is ripped from the pages of history: One episode centers on the implementation of a lottery, another on an ethics flap involving phone records. The characters are real too. The lieutenant governor is “an ornery master of politics who always ends up doing the right thing,” Ellis says. And the governor is, well, Richards-like. Who’ll play her? “Dreamworks would love to have Ann do it,” Ellis says. “But they realize she probably has other fish to fry.”

Hello, Larry Having endured liver transplant surgery last year, Larry Hagman is now hoping to tackle something slightly less daunting: a return to prime-time TV. The Fort Worth native recently completed work on Orleans, a two-hour pilot for CBS and MTM Productions that was shot on location in you-know-where. Hagman’s publicist says he plays a wealthy judge with three children—“and there may be a fourth; that is a question.” CBS will decide this month if Orleans will be picked up for the fall season. Also this month, CBS should set an air date for the Dallas reunion movie, which wrapped this spring. The story—set five years after the end of the series—centers on Hagman’s J. R. Ewing , who has been living in Europe but returns to Southfork to retake control of the family empire.

Get in Line Is there an actor in America who hasn’t uttered lines from Austinite Terrence Malick ’s new script? The reclusive director, whose last film was 1978’s stunning Days of Heaven , plans to begin pre-production late this year or early next year on an adaptation of James Jones ’s World War II novel The Thin Red Line . In preparation, he and executive producer Mike Medavoy have reportedly held readings with Sean Penn , Kevin Costner , Tim Robbins , Johnny Depp , Ethan Hawke , Lukas Haas , and other A-listers. As usual, Malick isn’t talking about the project, but the script is said to be a whopping 180 pages long. “He has a real feel for the epic,” says an old friend, “so my expectation is that it will have grandiose particulars.”

Big Techs This was supposed to be the year that the State Fair of Texas logged on to the modern world for the first time. In September, hardware, software, and online companies—including Microsoft, Sony, and Broderbund—were going to pony up at least $10,000 to show their stuff at interactive exhibitions at Fair Park ’s Texas Hall of State . And state fair organizers were talking to the Fox Network about paying $300,000 to become the lead sponsor. The plan called for Fox to bring cast members from The X Files to Fair Park along with real live humans dressed as Bart, Lisa, and other characters from The Simpsons . But, alas, the coming together of the Agrarian Age and the Information Age proved too complicated, so the whole thing has been postponed until 1997.

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