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John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV

Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Geena Davis, former Commander in Chief

I had a few minutes to speak to a former president the other day: President Mackenzie Allen from ABC's short-lived "Commander in Chief," aka Geena Davis. The actress says she also misses the show, canceled a year ago by ABC. Like NBC's "Studio 60" last fall, it started out hot but then consistently lost viewers.

"Pretty much every day somebody asks, Why did they take that show off the air? It's interesting to me how much of a presence it still has," says Davis, who comes to town Wednesday for the Smart Talk Women's Lecture Series at the Aronoff Center.

"I really miss doing that show. It was so much fun. It was the best character, and she was potentially inspiring to women."

So what went wrong? "It was the product of a few factors. The most important one was that we changed show-runners (executive producers) three times, not through any decision of the actors. We had the creator, then Steven Bochco, which caused some delays for his team to move in, and then it happened again when Steven Bochco was replaced. It's really tough to keep your audience when you're not on the screen."

I told her I thought part of the problem was that the show-runner could never figure out the Capitol Hill part of the show, and gave too much power to the House Speaker (Donald Sutherland). She disagreed, but conceded that the focus changed with each new boss.

Davis says she took the last year off to be with her kids (daughter 5, twin sons 3), but she's close to signing to shoot a movie this fall. "I'm incredibly picky. I've been able to play really great parts, like the president and "Thelma & Louise." So it's really tough. I want to pick something really, really good. Also, there are fewer opportunities for a 50-year-old actor."

Here's a link to ticket info, and to my story with her other comments about gender stereotypes in children's movies, sports and other stuff:

Where you a "Commander in Chief" fan? What's your favorite Geena Davis movie?


at 6/05/2007 10:19 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Commander in Chief got wierd after Bochco got it, particularly when the added the "Dickie" character (Mark Paul Gosselear).

I wish the networks would take a practice that works well for HBO and Showtime:

Rather than having seasons crammed with mediocre plots to fill a 20+ week season, do 13 weeks of uninterrupted programming and rotate the show in the same spot every season, e.g. Six Feet Under, Weeds, etc.

I'm tired of investing time in new shows only to have the plug pulled too soon.

at 6/05/2007 10:51 AM Anonymous Louis said...

There are a few really interesting things happening on television right now -- not the least of which is the wrap-up of The Sopranos, arguably the most influential show of its day -- and you're writing about Geena Davis and her deservedly canceled series? The fact that she happened to be in town doesn't make her or Commander in Chief interesting or relevant.

at 6/05/2007 12:39 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Louis, take a pill. Your head might explode if you don't.

Interesting parallel drawn to my favorite show, the recently cancelled "Jericho" - she claimed the repeated interruptions between episodes as each new producer came on board contributed to the decline in ratings. CBS did the same thing with placing Jericho on an extended leave of absence and then bringing it back in time to face Amierican Idol.
I would like to ask that fans of good quality TV shows take the time to watch all of Jericho on's Innertube website, and write/e-mail/call the CBS execs, ASAP so that John doesn't send Louis into another conniption fit when he posts how he just interviewed the "Mayor", referring to Johnston Green aka Gerald Mc Raney.


Dave B.
go to for more info!!!

at 6/05/2007 1:15 PM Anonymous Louis said...

Dave, I took that pill you suggested and my head's just fine. But yours must be in crisis, because Jericho sucked.

at 6/05/2007 2:11 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Louis, next time, upgrade to the extra strength brand. judging by your tantrum on the D-Day entry, you still have some issues.

btw, when are you gonna add something worth while to the Soprano entry?

at 6/05/2007 4:14 PM Anonymous Louis said...

Dave B., my tantrum -- such as it was -- had nothing to do with remembering D-Day. In fact, it was directed at the inane first post, which referred to Jim King and the crappy, old 'VXU as "innovative." You'd know that had you taken the time to think about what you read.

As for Mr Kiesewetter's Sopranos post . . . it's a big nothing, as Livia would have said. I have very little interest speculating on how the series will end, and I don't want to read dozens of stupid ideas on the subject. What I want is to read good, considered criticism of the show, that will make me think about it, maybe in ways that I haven't before.

That's what good critics write. Fortunately, that kind of writing is available elsewhere; I just wish we had someone locally who could do it.

But hey, if you're happy reading about Geena Davis, dead radio stations, and local newscast ratings, have at it. Seems about your speed.

at 6/05/2007 4:46 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...



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