February 13, 2006 07:35 AM

Geena Davis’s presidency is going on hiatus even sooner than previously expected.

Commander in Chief, originally slated to take a break starting March 7, has now been yanked from ABC’s schedule as of this Tuesday, to be replaced by episodes of George Lopez and According to Jim, the network has announced.

Commander in Chief is now slated to return to the air April 18.

“We believe in Commander in Chief and want to do what we think is best for its long term prospects,” ABC executive vice president of program planning and scheduling Jeff Bader said in a statement. “With this new schedule, the show will return with a healthy run of seven straight episodes in the spring.”

Originally, ABC had announced – only days after Davis had won a Golden Globe for the show last month – that Commander in Chief was to be benched as of March 7 and replaced with a new comedy, Sons & Daughters.

Commander in Chief, which had a promising start with 16 million viewers tuning into its September premiere, has been experiencing a decline in ratings since November and then took a dramatic plunge with the arrival of FOX’s rival ratings powerhouse American Idol.

When the problems began in November, ABC replaced the show’s writer-creator Rod Lurie with Steven Bocho, whose formidable credits include Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue. Under his watch, the series has tried to maintain a balance between family drama and political crisis of the week.

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