Now that the elections are over, what's good on TV?
There are many fine and steamy political dramas set in Chicago. "The Good Wife" and "Boss" are two of my favorites. Yet these shows, like so many others, revolve around white characters. If the national election results tell us anything, it's that the nation's demographics are changing.
So isn't it about time America makes room for a new political family on TV?
I'm talking an African-American family that has built a South Side political dynasty.
It's a story of steamy political intrigue and sex, a story of corruption, ambition, power, all the good, all the bad. And it stars a beautiful woman who marries into the family and must face down the domineering patriarch.
Who wouldn't watch that?
"I would," said my assistant, Old School. "But it has to be fiction. Let's make that clear. It's fiction."
Of course it's fiction. Complete fiction. Absolute fiction. Now let's write what Hollywood calls a "treatment" so if anyone wants to produce such a show, they'll have to pay Old School and me first.
Our story has a dynamic patriarch — a famous preacher — who has used his charisma, media savvy and expert use of the race card to make a fortune in politics. One son is a congressman with a beautiful, politically ambitious wife. Another works with the dad's social service operation. And another sells beer. A federal investigation threatens the congressman. How can the preacher protect his family?
The congressman's beautiful wife — played by either Zoe Saldana or Thandie Newton — considers a brilliant power play of her own. She picks up the phone and begins to dial the Chicago Tribune to speak to a crusty-but-benign newspaper columnist and his able assistant. The crusty guy is waiting. When she calls, all hell will break loose.
You can just hear the critics rave: "Amazing!" "Provocative!" "The most compelling TV drama since 'The Sopranos'!" "A terrifying laugh riot!"
Our actors won't be burdened by playing stiff, two-dimensional stereotypes. They'll be human, with grace, ambition, kindness, jealousy, envy and a lust for power. Now let's do some casting.
The preacher: Southern-born, tough and cynical, the family's patriarch leverages white liberal corporate guilt into an empire of his own. But he loathes the nation's first black president who upstaged him. Was once overheard on a hot TV microphone wanting to "cut out" the president's twin attributes to punish him for his arrogance.
So who plays the role of a lifetime? Morgan Freeman? Denzel Washington? Perhaps. But if I'm casting, the role goes to Laurence Fishburne, who can reach for the dangerously charismatic, as he did earning an Oscar nomination as Ike Turner.
The preacher's rival: This former gun-toting Chicago alderman is also an ex-cop. Once civil to each other, the preacher and his rival became enemies when the rival's daughter and the preacher's daughter-in-law squared off in a ward fight. Billy Dee Williams is the ex-alderman.
The matriarch: The media treat her as window dressing, but she's a strong woman tempered in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Nobody's fool, she's the neck that turns the head. Many actresses would love this role, but it's offered first to the outstanding Angela Bassett.
The congressman: He's under federal investigation for alleged misuse of his campaign credit card. Once sought a U.S. Senate seat and got help from a mysterious Indian businessman. Known for his catchphrase, "Bring it on!" He had an eye for a blond bikini model, enjoys an amazing collection of "Star Wars" action figures and has a strained relationship with his powerful father. A dynamic role requiring vulnerability, heedlessness and self-destructive narcissism. Oscar winner Cuba "Show Me the Money" Gooding Jr. wins this hands down.
The congressman's wife: Saldana or Newton as the daughter-in-law. She reads in a gossip column that her husband bought his girlfriend a $40,000 Rolex watch. She loves her family. She loves her husband. But she'll do what she must to take care of the kids. And she just might want that seat in Congress.
The bikini model: Jenny McCarthy would shine in this great supporting role.
The mysterious Indian businessman: Pete Postlethwaite would have been perfect, but he's dead. "Slumdog Millionaire" star Anil Kapoor, who played the game-show host, gets the role.
The brothers: Successful businessmen who received a beer distributorship after the preacher led a national black boycott against the beer company. Blair Underwood plays the younger brother, who still runs the beer business. Terrence Howard, who was great in "Hustle and Flow," portrays the other brother, who is being positioned to take the congressional seat.
The president: As a young politician on the South Side, he was overshadowed by the preacher. But no more. Now he's the most powerful man in the world. Idris Elba of "The Wire" is America's first black president.
The mayor: Ruthless, yet committed to Chicago, with White House ambitions of his own, he keeps the preacher at arm's length. Matthew Broderick is the mayor. He never gets a day off.
Crusty but benign columnist: Robert De Niro probably would say no way, as would New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Danny DeVito. The South Side's John C. Reilly gets the nod.
The columnist's assistant: Should be played by SNL's Kenan Thompson, but instead, Chicago actor Larenz Tate of "Menace II Society" plays the dynamic young newspaperman.
Remember, it's pure, unadulterated fiction, the Chicago Way. But it could make Old School and me a pile of cash.
It really should.
But who would believe a story like this?