Allison Janney proved truth is stranger than fiction on Friday when she stepped in to replace Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
Emmy-winning actress Janney, who portrayed press secretary C.J. Cregg on The West Wing, was instantly recognized by the members of the media in the room, most of whom had been fans of the show.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 29, 2016
Janney said she had returned to the White House to answer questions because Earnest was having a “root canal,” according to the Washington Post.
“But let’s be honest. I’m better at this anyway.”
She announced that President Obama was preparing for Saturday’s White House correspondents’ dinner.
“The president is still working on his jokes. I have no details on that other than he intends to be funny.”
Janney added that since it was Friday, she would be in her office “at half past 5, performing ‘The Jackal’,” an inside joke referring to a rap routine she performed on The West Wing.
Earnest was actually present, but before Janney gave up the mic, she confessed that she was really in the briefing room to talk about opioids.
Janney’s current role is that of Bonnie on a show called Mom, where she plays a recovering addict. She added that the show’s creator Chuck Lorre was also on site.
“This is a disease that can touch anybody. All of us can help reduce drug abuse through evidence-based treatment, prevention and recovery.”
— Josh Earnest (@PressSec) April 29, 2016
Janney has scooped up no less than seven Emmy awards, the most recent being her role as Bonnie on “sitcom savant” Lorre’s Mom, according to Vanity Fair. The series touches dramatically on issues with addiction, plunging fearlessly into mostly unexplored territory.
“Mostly I have people say great things about the show and especially the bit where these characters are in recovery, and we’re showing recovery wounds and showing that recovery is not always a dark place to be, but it can be a really fun place to be. The show centers on two different kind of families—the family that [our characters are] all related to, and the family made up of friends who help each other remain sober… that whole family is fun, too.”
Janney will also appear with Emily Blunt in the long-anticipated The Girl On The Train which premieres in October.
But in the White House, Janney had displayed her versatility, stepping out of her Mom role and channeling her former character C.J. Cregg with ease. Before she stepped down from the podium, a reporter asked her a West Wing-based question.
“Who would President Bartlet be supporting in the Democratic primary?”
“I think you know the answer,” she replied.
White House press briefings are held every day in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.
But today isn’t the strangest day in the briefing room. In December, Earnest was accompanied by stormtroopers and R2-D2, who were there to host a preliminary screening of the new Star Wars film. The Obamas hosted the movie at the White House for military families, according to Huffington Post.
Other notables include Chelsea Clinton’s cat, Socks, who famously was pictured on the podium against the blue backdrop in 1994.
The Briefing Room was constructed in 1970 during the Nixon Administration to give space to a burgeoning number of media reporters. The room replaced Franklin Roosevelt’s therapy swimming pool.
According to the White House website, over 200 journalists currently make up the press corps. There are only 49 chairs in the Briefing Room, so the White House Correspondents Association decides who gets to occupy them.
There is a plaque on each seat displaying the name of its corresponding news organization.
President Clinton’s cat, Socks, on the Press Secretary’s podium in the press briefing room. White House. 1993. pic.twitter.com/rE4WAL9ytR
— Historical Images (@Historicalmages) April 26, 2016
[Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP]