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Geena Davis has an inaugural ball



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BEVERLY HILLS -- At 6 feet tall, Geena Davis is always a commanding presence. But Wednesday night at an Inaugural Ball premiere party, TV's new Commander in Chief appeared almost as tall as the Washington Monument.

Arriving by motorcade to the sound of police sirens, 'President' Davis stepped out of her limo in a sleeveless, smoke-gray, beaded silk lame gown designed for her by Randolph Duke.

Escorted down the long red carpet by her tuxedo-clad husband, Reza Jarrahy, and several faux Secret Service men, Davis joked, "This is actually how I go to work every day."

Work for Davis is playing America's first female president, who also is juggling three kids and an unwelcoming Congress, on the ABC drama (premiering Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET/PT). "I have been to several real Inaugural Balls," said Davis, 49. "But President Clinton didn't have a cake shaped like the White House. That was my special idea."

The meticulously crafted evening included a red, white and blue balloon drop, pink presidential-seal chocolates, and a witty speech by Davis calling attention to her See Jane foundation, which promotes the inclusion of female characters in the media.

"In my mind I'm pretending that Geena Davis is actually running the country because it makes me feel a lot more secure," said Less Than Perfect's Sara Rue, summing up the opinions of the mostly Democratic Hollywood crowd. "We all thought of Hillary Clinton when we heard they were making this show. I hope it takes off!"

But Davis -- a Democrat playing an independent -- clarified, "We're making this as entertainment. But God willing, if this show stays on and people see a woman in that office for a while, I think it will help people become more used to it. It's certainly about time that we had a few female presidents."

Asked if Davis would make a competent president in real life, Donald Sutherland, cast as the gruff speaker of the House, noted Davis' membership in Mensa, a society for those whose IQ is in the top 2%. "She's marvelously intelligent," he said.

Playing Sutherland's aide is 31-year-old Natasha Henstridge. She met former President Clinton two months ago at a friend's luncheon. "His secretary came in to ask all the men to remove their ties because he had come dressed very casual," said Henstridge, who was called away from the dessert line by Clinton for a tete-a-tete.

Caitlin Wachs plays Davis' rebellious teenage daughter, who finds herself in trouble when her first time having sex is caught on tape. "It's like Paris Hilton," she said, "but maybe not as staged."

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© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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