theme with top nav, image slider on left of header and opt in on the right

Hi,

I'm a new member of WPMU Dev, and I'm looking for a theme that most closely matches (or can be most easily customized to look like) a site like http://www.alibrown.com

Top Menu (Likely Pages)
Left Side of Header (I'd actually like this to be an image scroller) | Rt side of header (opt in form)
Possible bottom menu of categories (or not)
Content area: likely 1 sidebar maybe 2 like at alibrown.com
Footer (does "cap off" the site visually)

Basically, there's a lot I can do to customize things...but if ya'll have a suggestion for the theme that's the closest match, that also would allow me to plan for upgrades (so I don't have to do all the customization ALL OVER again upon upgrade), then that would be great.

What I imagine is:
1) find the closest theme
2) adjust the header height in CSS
3) adjust the background images and colors of the navigation in CSS
4) add the opt in form

Tips for a good theme choice?
Eventually, I may move to a BuddyPress install, however not yet...right now it's straight up Wordpress.

Best,
Dainis