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Feature: Primetime

Commander in Chief

Geena Davis

She’s the boss! Television overtakes reality by offering us a woman president in ABC’s new drama…

She’s the first woman President – no, not Hillary Clinton, although that scenario could still be played out; it’s Geena Davis as President Mackenzie Allen in ABC’s new drama Commander in Chief. As a 45-year-old Vice President from the Independent Party she’s in the hot seat when the President dies during brain surgery, and Mackenzie Allen hence takes the oath of office. She does so against the wishes of her own associates, including the dying President, and the Speaker of the House, Nathan Templeton (Donald Sutherland), who would assume the post if she stepped down.

Executive Producer Rod Lurie is quick to defend the creative reason that dictated Allen’s rise to the Presidency should be by default rather than by design. “I wanted to deal with the conflict of a woman coming into office, and therefore a conventional election didn’t make sense to me as a piece of storytelling. I was just entertained by this notion of a vice president having to ascend a presidency, and that nobody wants her there.”

One person who wanted to be there was Geena Davis. “I leapt at the chance,” she acknowledges. “When my agents said that I had been approached to play the President on this show, I said, ‘So do I have to read it first or will you just say “Yes” now?’ For me to be able to be the President … for Thelma [as in ...and Louise] to be the President, or Stuart Little’s mother, is delightful. It’s certainly the role with the most gravitas that I’ve had to play, and I find that fascinating. I love the way Mackenzie is in the world and how she deals with people, how straight she is, how intelligent and confident she is.”

by Judy Sloane

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TV Zone #195

Photo © ABC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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TV Zone #195
November 2005
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