Bob Franken


August 31, 2007
Branch Out (Bob Franken)
@ 11:29 am

It’s good to see Fred Thompson is being true to form. He’s waiting till the day AFTER the next Republican debate. Only then will he make it official, finally, that he’s running for president. For real.

That way, he can avoid any unscripted questions from reporters and those pesky other candidates.

Instead, he will be appearing on Jay Leno’s show where he can play his favorite sport, “puffball.”

Speaking of scripted, the biggest question is, What does NBC do with all those “Law and Order” episodes with DA Arthur Branch?

Because once Fred Thompson, after all the foreplay, plays for real, starting next Thursday, the show has an equal-time issue.

But should producer Dick Wolf yank Thompson — replace him? Absolutely not. Hey Dick, I have a far better idea. Why not simply add the other candidates to the cast?

It can be bipartisan. Hillary could be one of the detectives. She’s been play-acting as a New Yorker for years now. Her unlikely partner, of course, could be Barack Obama, featured as the inexperienced rookie. That shouldn’t be too challenging.

John Edwards will take part only if all the villains are rich oppressors of the poor — except of course, lawyers.

Obviously, we’d want to include Thompson’s Republican buddies. Old friend John McCain should be willing. He really needs the money.

Mike Huckabee can be a wisecracking policeman who “is not angry” at people, unless, of course, they’re overweight.

Rudy Giuliani? He can be the New York mayor. Isn’t that the role he’s still playing in the presidential campaign?

Tom Tancredo, would appear as the department’s liaison to the Latino communities. He would wall them off from the rest of the city.

As for Mitt Romney, he’ll play whatever part is needed that day. He’s, uh, flexible.

It doesn’t even have to be really shot in New York. Just like so many producers, who are trying to lower costs, you can build sets reproducing the mean streets in Iowa, New Hampshire or whatever state is the latest to move up its primary date.

And given how all the candidates get around, we can even give the program a special name. How about “Law and Order SUV”?

Problem solved. At least for now. If Mike Bloomberg gets in, he can use his own money and buy the whole shebang. Of course that would make it an independent production.

The program could get plenty of airtime, simply by preempting all the debates. They could move to the Web, where they’ve been heading anyway.

The show would end its run in November 2008. The writers are still working on an ending.

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