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'Commander in Chief' to Go on Hiatus

"Commander in Chief" is in trouble.

The White House drama starring Geena Davis as the first female president started out as the most talked-about new show of the season with healthy ratings and a wide-open future.

But ABC said over the weekend that it is pulling "Chief" off the air until spring to make way for a new comedy, "Sons & Daughters." The info was buried in a news release announcing the start of the new comedy.

"'Commander in Chief' will go on a brief broadcast hiatus so that it can return in the spring with all original episodes," the release said.

ABC did something similar last year when it put "Boston Legal" on the shelf for a while and replaced it with "Grey's Anatomy."

"Grey's" was such a hit that "Boston Legal" did not return for the rest of the season.

The White House series will be off the air for at least six weeks, the network said.

Ratings for "Chief" have been in a free fall ever since it came back this month after a long, holiday break holiday.

Being on opposite "American Idol" — a huge hit in its fifth edition — has been especially tough.

Last week, the show drew barely 10 million people, its lowest ever. The show premiered last September with an audience of over 16 million.

"Obviously, we're disappointed in 'Commander' ticking down the last few weeks," ABC's top program exec, Stephen McPherson, told reporters last week — before the announcement that the show was going off the air for a while.

"I think being off for so long ... has hurt it," he said.

The show has changed — more or less dramatically — after ABC pulled creator Rod Lurie off the series and put in veteran cop-show producer Stephen Bochco to run the show.

"Chief's" main villain, Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton, played by Donald Sutherland, has been softened. And Davis' on-screen husband, first gentleman Rod Calloway, played by Kyle Secor, has been toned down to become more of an adviser than a loose-cannon spouse.

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