ABC Good Morning America,  05-12-1999

CHARLES GIBSON:  We sit on the Mississippi Gulf beaches, but the residents of the  countryside around here just love this state' s wide open spaces and lush forests. Delta Burke and her husband Gerald McRaney are devoted to small town Mississippi living and they recently invited us in to see their  spread. (voice-over) McRaney is proud of his southern roots, and his  hometown Collins, Mississippi, is very proud of him - - so proud that they recently honored McRaney by making his birth place a city monument. The whole town turned out to welcome him and his wife, actress Delta Burke.

GERALD McRANEY:  There's something about growing up either in farmland or in small towns  that everybody takes care of each other. And there's just more direct contact with people.

CHARLES GIBSON:  (voice-over) A couple hours drive from Collins, on the Pearl River, McRaney and Burke live for as much of the year as they can on their  500-acre farm, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of show business.

GERALD McRANEY:  Any sort of half-ass celebrity that I have ends at that gate. And here,  I'm just me. And Delta is just her.

DELTA BURKE: When I get there, I can run around barefoot. I can dance in the rain and nobody sees me. I can be a kid again.

GERALD McRANEY:  Well, this is one of my favorite places on the farm. This is the Pearl  River. And this is our own little private beach down here. Love to bring  my grandkids down here. We go wading in the river, gators and all. And this empties down in the Gulf of Mexico. You can take this all the way  down to the Gulf, right over there on the other side -- that bank over there is Louisiana.

CHARLES GIBSON:  (voice-over) McRaney spends nine months of the year filming "The Promised  Land." Burke is often on the road promoting her clothing line. But  whenever they can, they return to their native south, to their home in New  Orleans or their promised land on the Pearl River.

GERALD McRANEY:  I was wondering once, what is it about this place that has produced so  many good, creative people? Leontyne Price is from over here in Laurel.  William Faulkner, John Grisham, Beth Henley, Tennessee Williams -- that list just goes on and on. You're surrounded by life. You're constantly surrounded by creation. So some of that just has to rub off on you. And I think that's what makes great writers and actors and musicians and everything else is that reflection of nature. It gives new birth to me.

CHARLES GIBSON:  Delta Burke is joining us. She is wearing shoes today. There will be no dancing barefoot. And Gerald McRaney is also with us, without the eye  patch. He had cataract surgery a couple weeks ago and doing fine.

GERALD McRANEY:  Yeah. Doing great.

CHARLES GIBSON:  It is great to have both of you with us. What do you with 500  acres?

GERALD McRANEY:  Anything you want.


CHARLES GIBSON:  No. What is a typical Tuesday?

DELTA BURKE: First of all, I have a golf cart that is hot pink and says Delta on  it.

CHARLES GIBSON:  Why am I not surprised?

DELTA BURKE: I get in my golf cart with my dogs, I have five dogs.

GERALD McRANEY:  And a bird. A cockatoo. She sits over here. And the bird sits with me. And  we tear off down through the fields and go anyplace we want to and go through the woods and we play. I get to be a kid.
People ask me, what  do you raise on the farm? My response is always hell. And that's about it.

DELTA BURKE: One time we did have 300 acres in watermelons. That was fun.

CHARLES GIBSON:  That is more watermelons than most people knew what to do with it.

DELTA BURKE: We  knew what to do with them. We had a good time. You should have been there.

CHARLES GIBSON:  You talked about the cultural leadership of the South.


CHARLES GIBSON:  In so many areas -- we talked about the fact that religion emanates from  here, so much money and people are coming from here. You can argue this area leads the country politically now. But culturally, there has always been a very rich tradition here that you talked about. Why do you think  it's true?

GERALD McRANEY:  Well, I honestly meant what I said in that piece. I think part of it just has to do with the land and the fact that people here stay in my opinion,  more in touch with the land. And there's also a great sense of tradition.  I mean everybody here is a writer. Most of them are just yarn spinners.

CHARLES GIBSON:  I think that's part of it. I often thought the same thing about Ireland. People are big talkers in this area.

GERALD McRANEY:  Yeah. And the art of conversation has not been lost here.

CHARLES GIBSON:  Yes. And the slow pace, the slower pace lends itself, I think, a little  bit more to that. You can live anywhere.

DELTA BURKE: I love when I come home, though. The moment I get to the airport, everybody is so warm and wonderful. Hey Delta, Miss Delta -- hey, Miss Delta, how you doing? And it' s just this warmth. And we live in a French Quarter a lot of the time, in New Orleans. And the camaraderie of everybody there. Everybody takes care of each other.

CHARLES GIBSON:  Anybody in the entertainment business say why do you live here?

DELTA BURKE: No, they all say, we wish we could do that.


DELTA BURKE: It's a good balance.

CHARLES GIBSON:  Well, Miss Delta, thank you very much for having us down in your area. We enjoyed it.

DELTA BURKE: Thank you ever so much for having me on.

GERALD McRANEY:  We'll teach you how to talk before you leave. CHARLES GIBSON: I'm getting  the hang of it as we travel around. Gerald, thank you very much. Good Morning America continues. We'll be back.



Transcribed by Federal Document Clearing House, Inc. under license from American  Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the  materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (c) 1999 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. CHARLES GIBSON, DIANE SAWYER, MISSISSIPPI LIVING. , ABC Good Morning America, 05-12-1999.