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The Moo Generation

November 01, 1987|Connie Benesch

In Tri-Star's "Suspect," Dennis Quaid plays a slick, free-wheeling dairy-industry D.C. lobbyist who, for the sake of a key vote, beds a congresswoman. And the lobbying life in the Capitol comes off as pretty darned seamy.

Too sleazy for James Mulhern, an honest-to-goodness dairy industry lobbyist--assistant legislative director for the National Milk Producers Federation in Arlington, Va.--who lunched with Quaid earlier this year while the actor was preparing for his role.

"That isn't the real world of lobbying in Washington," claimed Mulhern, who nonetheless found the thriller "entertaining."

He also found Quaid's portrayal of fictional lobbyist Eddie Sanger uncannily similar to himself. At a party last weekend, acknowledged Mulhern, he was in for a lot of ribbing about "how slick I came off in the movie."

Mulhern recalled of his lunch with Quaid and two other dairy lobbyists: "I had this strange feeling during our conversation that he was watching my mannerisms to see what a lobbyist is like." And when Mulhern saw the picture, "I chuckled. It struck me that he had really been trying to build that character."

Quaid's character, like Mulhern, hails from Wisconsin. And both had previously been legislative assistants. But Mulhern, 31 and separated from his wife, insisted, with a laugh, that he has not slept with a congresswoman: "I have never done that and I would never do that. That I thought was very unrealistic."

Mulhern doesn't wear flashy "power ties" like Quaid's character--"but most lobbyists do." And other details, like buttonholing legislators for votes in Washington corridors, rang true.

The lobbyist remained philosophical about the dramatic license that he claims was taken by the film makers--"In most respects the movie is far-fetched"--but added: "I think people are able to separate Hollywood from reality."

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