Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Real (Ambitious) McCoy

Despite charges that he’s too lazy to be president, and that his U.S. Senate voting record is too at odds with Republican Party doctrine, actor-politician Fred Thompson--sensing a lack of public interest in the already 10 men running for his foundering party’s 2008 presidential nomination--seems destined to throw his oversized hat into the ring. This not only encourages Republicans who fear that George W. Bush’s many failures and scandals will leave Americans wanting a Democrat to fill the White House in the future, but it apparently has led actor Sam Waterston--who plays New York Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy to Thompson’s D.A. Arthur Branch on TV’s Law & Order--to think that it might be time for his character to get a promotion.

The blog TV Squad has the skinny on all this: “According to an anonymous source close to the show, Waterston is negotiating to have his character step into the D.A. role when Law & Order returns at the beginning of 2008. How McCoy would slip into the position, as well as his replacement, have yet to be determined. When asked to confirm this news L&O creator Dick Wolf as well as Waterston declined to comment.”

Over that NBC-TV show’s 17-year history, there have only been three D.A.s (well, four if you count Roy Thinnes, who had the part in the L&O pilot). Of those, the fairly liberal Adam Schiff (played from 1990 to 2000 by Steven Hill) was, in my opinion, the best; Thompson is less complex and too gruff-seeming (though his presidential advisors would prefer to call him “tough”) as Branch. The more emotional, idealistic, and earnest McCoy might fill the D.A.’s shoes nicely, and perhaps leave open the opportunity for a woman to be appointed in his place. Might I suggest Bebe Neuwirth, who did such an outstanding job as Homicide Bureau Chief District Attorney Tracey Kibre in the short-lived spinoff Law & Order: Trial by Jury? I’d love to see her mix it up with McCoy on a regular basis.

Just a thought ...

UPDATE: Well, it’s happened: CBS News and other sources are reporting that come the fall season, Law & Order’s Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) “will take over from New York D.A. Arthur Branch, who was played by Fred Thompson.” So what’s the downside? The district attorney’s role in L&O has traditionally been rather less substantial than that of the assistant district attorney, McCoy’s previous job. Let’s hope that the talented Waterston can change that.

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