Gannett News Service, 01-08-1995.

So here is one of Hollywood's most colorful couples. Gerald McRaney and Delta Burke  sometimes find themselves together, against the world.

She fumes; he  comforts. "I was at a place where Mac was the one who took care of me,"  she says.

So what are  they doing now? Surprisingly, they have separate shows ... on separate networks ... in separate parts of the country.

Couldn't one of  them slow down? Don't count on it, McRaney says. "I'm a nutcase," he says. "I have to work. I don't mind taking time off, but after two or three  weeks, I have to work."

So their household is in a state of overemployment, with: - Her "Women of the House," at 8 p.m. EST Wednesdays on CBS. - His "Jake Lassiter: Justice on  the Bayou." The movie airs at 9 p.m. Monday (Jan. 9) on NBC, doubling as a pilot for a series.

If McRaney does  get a series, there will be big-time commuting. She'll have a show in Hollywood; he'll have one in New Orleans.

"Comedies tend to have a very civilized work schedule," McRaney says. "Chances are, she'd get a week off, every three or four weeks."

And there are  always the flings.

"I made a trip to Vancouver, when he was working there," Burke says. "We kind of get the best 24-hour view of a city we can."

It's a hectic  life, for people who have one key thing in common: They neatly fit niches for the old and new South.

Burke has the  classic, beauty-queen image. Miss Florida at 19, she used the money to study acting in London; then she hit Hollywood, burning with ambition.

McRaney fits newer campus images. "I went to Ole Miss and so did my brother ... My brother graduated from law school at Ole Miss, back when that really meant something."

When we think  of the Deep South, of course, we sometimes forget to think about big-city lawyers. Mostly, we skip a lot of in-between parts.

"We seem to go straight from Faulkner to illiterates," McRaney says.

Sure, we've  always known that the greatest writers - from William Faulkner to Tennessee Williams to Truman Capote - were Southern. What we might overlook is the midsection.

"At the  Faulkner Museum, there is a group of lawyers who meet regularly," McRaney  says. "They talk about this book, that book ... "You don't expect to see a  group of high-power lawyers, sitting around talking books, but that's what  you get. There's a great, downhome intelligence."

So when McRaney  planned a pilot film, he had a couple goals. He wanted the hero to be a  lawyer, like his brother. "Lately, you hear talk about a revulsion toward the law. People would like to see a lawyer they can respect."

And he wanted  it to be filmed in the city he's always admired. "New Orleans was always the place you went, if you had any kind of artistic bent."

For starters,  New Orleans offers splendid backdrops.

There are the  eerily lovely mansions, which novelist Anne Rice describes so vividly.  "Miss Rice has one of the finest homes in the Garden District," McRaney  says. "The whole area is spectacular."

And there are  many more choices nearby. There's the Gulf Coast, the Bayou, the old  architecture and the new downtown.

Some of that shows up in McRaney's pilot film, which has the usual twists. A gorgeous widow (Tracy Scoggins) blames the surgeon - who is McRaney's client - for  her husband's death. A retired pathologist (Robert Loggia) thinks otherwise. It's a quietly competent mystery, boosted by the settings and  by McRaney's understated skill.

And if it  becomes a series? McRaney and Burke will be in different cities; life will  be quieter.

Yes, there are times when four strong forces are in the same room. McRaney and Burke are  Republicans; Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (producers of  her show) are friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

To Burke, this is uncomfortable. "I'm a Republican, but I'm not as intense as the other  three."

To McRaney,  it's fun. "Harry and I have had some very lively discussions. If you're dealing with someone who is liberal, but has an open mind, that's  fine.

" With him in  New Orleans, however, Burke has had to take over their half of the  arguments.

"Mac can remember everything and everyone's record," Burke says. "I'll tell them: `You just wait until my husband gets here.' "

Copyright 1995, Gannett News Service, a division of Gannett  Satelitte Information Network, Inc. MIKE HUGHES, ©"Simon & Simon" and all of its characters' copyrights are held by Universal City Studios, as are all pictures on this site unless otherwise noted. This site is completely nonprofit - I don't get a dime. On the contrary, it is my hope that the copyright holders will make more items available for sale so  others and I can spend more money!