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Geena Davis to Play 1st Female President

Geena Davis (search) has nabbed the role of the first female president of the United States in a new ABC drama pilot, "Commander in Chief." (search)

The show, in the early stages of development, is described by ABC (search) officials as a drama about the nation's first woman president — but unlike "The West Wing," "Chief" will focus more on the president's family life.

Plans are under way to film the show's ground-breaking, two-hour pilot, and the network is expected to decide if it wants the show later this spring.

According to early reports, Kyle Secor ("Homicide: Life on the Street") has been cast as Davis' husband, "The First Man," and Ever Carradine ("Lucky") as her press secretary.

But a drama that focuses on a female president's family worries scholars.

"It makes me a little nervous that a woman [president] is associated with 'family life,' " said Dr. June Speakman, political science professor at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I.

Speakman recently completed a study of political campaign ads, which found that female politicians almost never appear in commercials with their families because there is a misperception that they need to prove they are strong, decisive leaders.

Speakman says that if the goal of "Commander in Chief" will be to try to shift public perceptions in favor of a female president, "emphasizing her family life probably is not going to do it."

The choice of Davis as president is also troubling to Speakman, since Davis is better known for lighter roles — despite winning an Oscar in 1989 for her supporting role in "The Accidental Tourist."

"If Geena Davis is portrayed as a decisive strong leader, I think it might help shape voters' perceptions," she says. "On the other hand, if she's dealing with mostly child-care issues, like how to take care of her kids and run the country at the same time, that might only deepen the stereotype."

Speakman says that Glenn Close's performance as vice president (and acting president) in "Air Force One" was one of the few times Hollywood has portrayed a powerful female in the top job in the West Wing. "She played a very strong, competent forceful leader," Speakman says.

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