I was trying to decide whether to write this week's column about Cybill Shepherd, the actress I'm profiling for the upcoming CBS News Sunday Morning broadcast, or about the Florida recount, the story that will not die. And then it hit me. As wacky and unpredictable as Cybill's life in show biz has been, it seems rather humdrum when contrasted with what's going on in politics these days.
After all, Cybill has merely had a roller-coaster career and an uproarious personal life. By her early 20s she'd made it big as a model and a Hollywood ingénue in film classics like The Last Picture Show, Taxi Driver and The Goodbye Kid. She saw her career almost disintegrate, but she came back with two groundbreaking television shows, Moonlighting and Cybill, where there were always rumors of strife on the set, allegedly caused by her.
And oh, by the way she still managed to spend time polishing her cabaret act and to have self-confessed affairs with everyone from her first movie director, Peter Bogdanovich, to Elvis, to author Larry McMurty, to stuntmen on her movies, to her gynecologist. And now she's hosting her own talk show.
But how can the story of any Hollywood star, even a notoriously flamboyant one, compare with the sensational doings in Florida or Austin, or even dull old Washington? Daily battles over pregnant chads and hanging chads and hand recounts! A (state) secretary of state who wears more makeup than Cybill! Two former (federal) secretaries of state trying to out statesmen each other! Nonstop news conferences by campaign underlings! A constant round of court hearings packed with cranky lawyers and even crankier journalists! Statements by the dueling presidential candidates, each more concerned about his own image than any movie star could be.
It used to be when I'd tell other reporters that I was taking time out from covering serious stuff, to jet off to Los Angeles, they'd tell me they were jealous, that some people had all the luck. But not this week. If you want a story with all the drama of Hollywood, you've got to head for Florida.