By Judy Kurtz
Sen. Dick Durbin says his real-life living situation with three other lawmakers was hardly as dramatic as Hollywood may make it out to be.
There was “no sex, no drugs, no violence” in his shared D.C. digs he says, so he’s hoping the new Amazon show “Alpha House” adds “some new elements to an otherwise pretty boring situation.”
The series from “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau is loosely based on Durbin’s experience shacking up with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), and former Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) in a rented Capitol Hill abode years ago.
“Violence would involve rats. Drugs would involve Metamucil. And the closest thing to sex is pictures of our grandkids. So that’s not even close,” a laughing Durbin said Tuesday at the premiere of the political comedy at the Newseum in downtown Washington.
It’s a similar line to one Durbin gave to Mark Leibovich in a 2007 New York Times article about the living arrangement, in which he said while “everybody in the world says they’re going to do a television series” based on the congressional roomies, they then realize a story about “four middle-aged men, with no sex and violence, is not going to last two weeks.”
Trudeau responded to Durbin’s remarks, telling ITK with a smile, “We got around that problem by adding sex and violence… Life is a little livelier in our house than perhaps it is in his.”
“Alpha House,” Amazon’s first foray into original programming, brought out a packed crowd of living and breathing House members.
But many claimed their own experiences residing in the nation’s capital hardly resembled the laundry strewn, cereal-sharing pad their colleagues lived in and is depicted in the show.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) said his condo is not like Alpha House and is “fairly spartan.” Asked if time in his crash pad would make for a good sitcom, he replied, “[It] could, but it would be a short show.”
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) went to college with Trudeau and said he was “a little intrigued by the concept of the show.”
As far as his own dwelling he said, “I live alone. No cats. It’s very boring.”
Saying he “got done” with roommates in college, Rep. Jason Chaffetz chooses to forgo a private space in favor of sleeping in his office. The Utah Republican called the show “over-the-top” but admitted, “They’re a lot of things that are actually fairly close to reality there.”
In the series, of which the first three episodes are free online with following weekly episodes available for free to Amazon Prime members, the political parties of the main characters are switched. Actors John Goodman, Mark Consuelos, Matt Malloy, and Clark Johnson play Republican, rather than the real-life Democratic lawmakers.
“Republicans are a target-rich environment,” Chaffetz chuckled, “so there’s plenty of material there.”
Eyed among the high-profile premiere-goers: Delahunt, Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), and Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), CNN “Crossfire” co-host Stephanie Cutter (sporting a mini baby bump), Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman Michael Steel, Tammy Haddad, Democratic consultant Joe Trippi, Kelley McCormick, Mignon Clyburn, Heather Podesta, lawyer John Coale and Elizabeth Kucinich.