As White House Press Secretary, C.J. was sharp, well-spoken and witty. She wasn’t pleased to discover her Secret Service codename, “Flamingo”, a bird she described as “ridiculous-looking”. On festive occasions, C.J. could be persuaded to perform a dead-on lip sync of The Jackal by Ronnie Jordan, which Sam Seaborn described as “Shakespeare the way it’s meant to be done”. Oftentimes she was also good-naturedly competitive about her comparative education with other senior staffers like Josh Lyman and Toby Ziegler.
C.J. grew up in Dayton, Ohio, with two brothers, the only daughter of Talmidge Cregg, a Math Professor.
Before the White House, C.J. worked with Emily's List and as a PR agent at the California public relations comapny, Triton Day. Her old friend, Toby Ziegler, recruited her to the Josiah Bartlet presidential campaign, Bartlet For America, in October 1997.
C.J. was at the Newseum in Rosslyn, Virginia when the President and his staff were fired upon by white supremacists. She remembered being knocked down early and noticed her necklace missing, later figuring out Sam was the one who pushed her out of harm’s way.
C.J. often championed contrary views on many volatile topics in the West Wing, such as weapons sales to Q’umar and the right of the public to be told things that may cause panic and chaos.
Toward the end of Bartlet’s first term she received death threats after publicly criticizing Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women and was assigned protection by Secret Service agent Simon Donovan, with whom she began an unrealized romance. As President Bartlet and his entourage visited New York to watch “The Wars of the Roses”, the FBI told him they’d arrested the culprit; he pulled C.J. out of the crowd to privately deliver the news and, no longer held up by duty, they kissed. Minutes after, however, he unknowingly walked into a local grocery shop in the middle of an armed robbery and, after cuffing one gunman, was shot and killed by another. C.J. was visibly distraught after learning of this (“Posse Comitatus”).
Shortly before President Bartlet’s Second Inauguration, she returned home to deliver a speech at her 20th high school reunion, and visited her father suffering from Alzheimer’s and struggling to cope after his third wife (C.J.’s previous English teacher) left him. C.J. wrestled with the reality of her dad’s declining condition; after taking him to a doctor, she attempted to give her speech but was called back to Washington due to threats to American embassies in Asia.
Chief Of Staff
Midway through Bartlet’s second term, Leo McGarry suffered a near-fatal heart attack and was forced to resign his position as White House Chief of Staff. At Leo’s advice, Bartlet named C.J. his successor. After a rough period “learning the ropes” she settled into her new position, earning the respect of her colleagues and the Washington political establishment. Late in the term, C.J. was initially suspect of leaking classified information about a secret military space shuttle to New York Times correspondent Greg Brock, until Toby Ziegler confessed to it and was fired. After Matthew Santos won the presidential election to succeed Bartlet, Josh Lyman attempted to recruit C.J. into his administration; she was also offered several lucrative positions at major corporations.
At the start of President Bartlet’s second term and after a two-year absence from the Press Room, Danny returned from his stint overseas after hearing a first-hand account of a Bermuda signal agent having the day off when Q’umari defense minister Abdul ibn Sharif’s plane went off radar 85 miles off of Bermuda. Thus, he attempts to break the story of the Bartlet administration’s assassination of Sharif, again putting him in direct conflict with C.J. Yet she urges him in fairness to post his story after his agreement to delay it for two days due to plausible threats (and Zoey Bartlet’s eventual kidnapping), once it’s clear President Walken might break the story himself.
Sometime after C.J. became White House Chief of Staff, during the last few months of the Bartlet Administration, Danny returns once again and invites C.J. to a dinner date. Though she intended to delay their relationship until President Bartlet was out of office, they end up getting together shortly after Leo’s fatal heart attack and remain lovers during her last two months in office, but she hesitates to define their relationship, and the lack of communication about their future increasingly frustrates him. After a fight two weeks before the Inauguration, C.J. finally agrees to prioritize herself, choosing Danny, and Franklin Hollis’s extraordinary offer.
In the “flash-forward” to the Bartlet Presidential Library dedication, three years in the future from mid-2006 (The Ticket), they are shown engaged and with a child, living in Santa Monica, California.
C.J.’s foremost romantic relationship on the show was her long, on-off flirtation with Senior Washington Post White House correspondent Danny Concannon, whom she felt she couldn’t date for conflicts of interest in their respective jobs. Danny spent several of the early seasons trying to woo C.J.; after Lyman tipped him of her love of ‘goldfish’, he gifted her a live one before being told by C.J. herself that what she liked was Goldfish crackers. Still, she named the fish ‘Gail’ and kept it throughout her time at the White House, becoming a staple on her desk. Gail’s decoration would change from episode to episode—ranging from a miniature White House, a miniature Presidential podium (often seen around the State of the Union), to many other relevant decorations that matched the specific episode’s theme.
- 1997: Public Relations Agent at Triton-Day
- 1998-2005: White House Press Secretary
- 2005-2007: White House Chief of Staff
- 2007-present : President & CEO of the Frank Hollis Foundation
- Member of EMILY's List
- 1998 Campaign Spokeswoman for the "Bartlet for America" presidential campaign
- 1999-2005: White House Press Secretary
- 2005-2007: White House Chief of Staff
- The character may be loosely based on Bill Clinton’s first Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, who also served as a consultant to the show.
- Allison Janney won two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2000, 2001) and two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (2002, 2004) for her portayal of C.J. Cregg. She was nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress category twice more (2003, 2006) but did not win.
- Janney also took home numerous awards and nominations from the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Awards.
Notes and references
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