Thelma is going to the White House, sans Louise.
By ROB OWEN
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Is there room on the tube for two White House-set shows? We'll find out this fall when ABC's "Commander in Chief," my favorite fall drama, airs Tuesday nights at 9, two days after "The West Wing," which shifts to 8 p.m. Sundays.
Geena Davis stars in the title role as an Independent vice president who succeeds a Republican president, against his will, after he dies in office.
The politics of the show are preposterous -- like any party would allow an Independent on a presidential ticket in the current political climate -- but the drama is first-rate.
Executive producer Rod Lurie ("Line of Fire"), who explored the role of women in higher office in the movie "The Contender" with Joan Allen, said if there's room for multiple cop and lawyer shows on TV, there's plenty of space for a second presidential show. Plus, "Commander in Chief" will distinguish itself from "The West Wing" by putting a greater focus on President Mackenzie Allen's home life.
"If I was just throwing on the air another middle-aged white man as president of the United States and he was a Democrat, then, no, there would be no reason to do it," Lurie said.
The East Wing
While "West Wing" deals with the minutiae of politics, "Commander" will focus more heavily on the East Wing. "Because the family is so involved in our show, we're going to deal a lot with how you get the kids to school, how do you take the little kids trick-or-treating? How are state dinners run from A to Z? We're going to deal with the functioning of the White House."
Lurie said it will be a 50-50 split on domestic stories and stories about the president on the job. For the latter, "Commander" won't deal with the president's staff as much as "what goes over the transom of the Oval Office very specifically."
Davis said she leaped at the chance to play the leader of the free world.
"For Thelma to be president, I just think it's delightful. Or Stuart (Little's) mother, whatever way you want to look at it," she said. "It's certainly the role with the most gravitas that I've had to play, and I find that fascinating."