Columns » City Sage

Pitching City Council! to HBO

City Sage



Remember the Seinfeld finale? Dull and disappointing, but it didn't really matter. After all those years, it had gone from being fresh and interesting to boring and predictable. But we had Friends, which was novel and exciting and then it became tedious and repetitious and we didn't much care, and then there was Curb Your Enthusiasm, and then The Wire, and then Boardwalk Empire, and now I'm already tired of Girls, even tired of the new shows I've yet to see.

And so we move on to politics.

It seems a great pity that Tim Leigh, Angela Dougan, Lisa Czelatdko, Brandy Williams, Scott Hente and Bernie Herpin so abruptly left City Council. Unlike the present dour group, they were vivid, fearless and alive, ready to fight and ready to make up, unafraid of the future and mostly unbound by the past. They didn't pretend to agree or to like each other. They had little respect for the self-appointed grandees of the business community, the media or Mayor Steve Bach's office.

Along with still-serving Jan Martin, Merv Bennett and Val Snider, they made up a Council that was greater than the sum of its parts. It wasn't just another group of earnest, civic-minded folks sitting at the dais saying boring things about boring subjects and making boring decisions. At its best, it was a show.

Imagine the would-be show runner's pitch to the skeptics at HBO. City Council! Nine people we can identify with, trying to govern the single craziest city in America. We've got all the right-wing Christians, the anti-tax loonies, the conspiracy theorists, the Air Force Academy, lots of retired generals and colonels living on fat pensions and hating the government — and we've got a big gay community, more Democrats than Boulder, a great arts scene, lots of jocks and Lance Armstrong's trainer, a cool downtown surrounded by suburbia, and it's really beautiful!

This is America, folks — every cultural, political and lifestyle fight in the country plays out at City Hall. And here's our (age-approximate) cast.

• Bernie: He's big, conservative, into gun rights — but the sweet and gentle Grandpa to everybody. I'm thinking Nick Nolte.

• Tim: Early 50s, fit, paranoid, charming, always getting into trouble. He's Walter in Breaking Bad. Would Michael Shannon play a little older?

• Brandy: Mid-30s, super-smart, controlled, ambitious. Only one choice: Anna Kendrick.

• Lisa: She's 40, mother of four, blonde, tall. Smart, unpredictable, impulsive, gets into political hot water. Michelle Williams.

• Angela: Mom, 45, married to a police officer, plainspoken and tough as nails. I've written her as an older Lena Dunham, but maybe Ashley Judd?

• Scott: Council president, 60, just can't believe the crap he has to put up with from everybody — tries to stay sane, run the meeting and be the grownup, but he's everybody's favorite target. Robert Redford.

• Jan: Liberal (in Colorado Springs, that means moderate Republican!), 60, principled, risk-taker, afraid of nobody. Fights with Tim and Angela, allied with Scott. Susan Sarandon.

• Val: Retired military, 60, quite open-minded. Trail runner. Knows how to work complex bureaucratic systems. Quiet and canny. Dustin Hoffman.

• Merv: Retired nonprofit exec, mid-60s, just wants everybody to get along and do good work, but nobody pays much attention. Let's play him for laughs with John Goodman.

• And the supporting cast! Daniel the banished blogger/reporter/Facebook junkie (Shia LaBeouf), Pam the fearless investigative reporter (Julie Christie), Doug the anti-tax guy (Bryan Cranston), and lastly ...

• Steve the mayor! Council doesn't like it, but he's the boss — he makes deals and promises, breaks both, and never admits a thing. He has power and wants more. He leads, Council doesn't follow, and they all fight. Only one choice: the Godfather himself, Al Pacino.

What a show it could have been, and what a cast! But now we have the no-fun Council, a seriously conservative lineup of middle-aged-to-older males, Martin, Helen Collins and Jill Gaebler.

I don't think it's pitch-worthy yet ... but there's a fabulous opportunity just a few blocks away. Three girls with guns, one a fiery redhead! A cool, conservative African-American guy! And finally a sweet-natured fellow, a lot like Bernie.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: County Commissioners!

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