"Emmy Award-winner Allison Janney garnered the most attention on the red carpet outside the Regal Hollywood 20. Best known for her portrayal of C.J. Cregg on TV's "The West Wing," Janney was in town to present her new drama, "Our Very Own."
The affable star donned a black knit dress and a striking pair of stilettos, prompting one passerby to remark, "A tall woman who wears high heels is wonderful."
"I am very excited about the screening and especially the party later tonight," Janney said when she stopped on the red carpet to be interviewed by The Herald.
She was referring to the "Night of a Thousand Stars Party" that was held at 9:30 p.m. Friday at nearby Michael's on East. The scheduled entertainment for the evening was "Ivan Kane's Forty Deuce," a famed Las Vegas burlesque show.
"She used to be a burlesque dancer," deadpanned Richard Jenik, Janney's co-star in "Our Very Own" and also her fiancé.
"I wish," Janney laughed. "I have a fantasy of being a burlesque dancer."
Perhaps the dancers could give her some pointers.
"I'll be in the front row taking notes," she joked."
From the Herald Tribune:
"After the emotional roller coaster she's been on filming the final episodes of "The West Wing," Allison Janney is looking forward to a little rest and relief during the Sarasota Film Festival.
She stars in the festival film "Our Very Own."
Janney filmed her final scenes Friday on the multi-award-winning TV drama, in which she plays former press secretary and current White House Chief of Staff C.J. Cregg. The last few weeks have been "completely numbing, completely emotional," she said in a telephone interview a few days earlier.
"I have been anticipating this moment since Season 1. I guess I don't trust good things," she said. "I figured it's going to end because it was too good to last."
That long-standing expectation of the end means she now feels almost relieved that it's over.
"That moment is upon me so I can get on with my life. I'm ready for it to be over. It's amazing for an actor to have a job for seven years," she said. "I feel completely fortunate and lucky to be in one of the most important dramas in television history."
The series finale airs May 14, and Janney said she has been planning nonworking activities to fill her time. Her three-day visit to Sarasota is part of a complete break from acting so she can recharge before tackling the next project.
Janney will attend a screening of the film ["Our Very Own"] at 6:45 p.m. Friday (it also will be screened at 7:30 p.m. Saturday) and will answer questions afterward. And she is the guest of honor at this year's Luncheon Under the Banyans at Selby Gardens at noon today.
"Our Very Own" is about a group of high-school friends preparing for a big event in the small town of Shelbyville, Tenn., where hometown girl-turned movie star Sandra Locke might appear.
Janney plays Joan Whitfield, a role written specifically for her by her best friend, Cameron Watson, the film's writer and director.
"I was so flattered that he did that. I wanted to help him and thought I could do justice to the part and I thought we would all have a good time."
And they did.
"It was more fun than I ever thought it would be," she said.
Janney describes Joan as "one of those Southern women who don't air their dirty laundry in public." But she faces repeated embarrassments, such as the moment when the manager of a grocery store rejects her check while one of her closest friends is in line behind her.
"The public shame of that ... it's just humiliating," she said.
Joan lives a world away from C.J. Cregg, the role that has earned Janney two Emmy Awards. The actress said she wasn't keen when her character was promoted to chief of staff.
"It was not as fun much for me. I'm flattered that they wanted to do that, but it was hard for me," she said. "I like to be a team player and that shifted all the relationships. Suddenly, I had to be very serious, delegating, assigning. I had my moments of enjoyment as chief of staff, but I always liked when C.J. was press secretary best."
That said, she knows she was playing an "important role model for women. It's wonderful, great, that people got to see a woman in that high position."
"Awards are nice because acting isn't easy. Every part is hard for me. I'm hard on myself," she said. With "Our Very Own," she "wanted to do right by Cameron. I was afraid I'd let him down. He was happy with the way it turned out and I'm almost happy that I didn't disappoint him."
After taking a break, Janney said she will get back to work, hoping not to disappoint other writers and directors. She's actually eager to try a comedy series.
"I think that would be a lot of fun," she said, partly because she knows how difficult it will be to find a series that will match the quality and impact of "The West Wing.""
"Some movie stars shy away from their fans - but not the endearing Allison Janney.
No, she was impossible to miss at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens on Thursday. The tall, slender actress stood in front of her table before and after the awards ceremony and greeted the attendees with an inviting grin.
"It's so beautiful here in Sarasota," Janney said. "This is the perfect place to get away. We're loving it here."
Janney was sporting a bright smile and an appropriately florid sundress when she arrived just past noon. While attendees found their seats and were served glasses of rosé, the actress cheerfully engaged her fans. After a meal of salad, grilled chicken topped with mango salsa, rice and mixed vegetables, attendees were treated to a series of clips from "Our Very Own."
"This was one of the best times I have ever had doing a movie," the 45-year-old Janney said from behind the podium. "Even though, as you saw, my character wasn't that happy."
Janney and [fiancee Richard] Jenik, all smiles at the World Cinema Celebration the night before, were in good spirits again on Thursday. Janney, whose past film credits include "The Hours" and "American Beauty," was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her role in "Our Very Own."
Of course, she is best known for playing C.J. Cregg on "The West Wing," which airs Sundays on NBC. The program concludes its award-winning seven-year run this season. The last episode has already been taped.
"I need to take a break and re-charge my batteries," Janney said in a post-ceremony interview. "It was seven years of 18-hour days - but it was wonderful, too.
"All great things in life have their good and bad, you know.""
Also from the Bradenton Herald:
""West Winger" Allison Janney showed up late, fresh off a jet. We'd just left. But Herald reporter Wade Tatangelo literally bumped into her and chatted her up for some 20 minutes, remarking how friendly and "normal" she is. No big "I'm a STAR" ego there."
Getty Images has photos of Allison Janney in Florida.
From the Herald Tribune:
"The eighth annual festival, a 10-day cinematic carnival that mixes glitzy black-tie parties with filmmaker symposiums and free children's events, begins March 31.
The guest list also includes "The West Wing" star Allison Janney, distinguished German director Werner Herzog and Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne ("Chinatown" and "Shampoo")."
You can buy tickets from the event's official website.