Jane Alexander had never been involved in mainstream politics and was happily engaged in her acting career when she was asked to consider becoming head of the embattled National Endowment for the Arts in the early 1990s. When, during her first visit to the Hill, Senator Strom Thurmond barked at her, "You gonna fund pornography?" she knew it would be a rough ride. Nothing had quite prepared her for the role of madame chairman. Her tenure coincided with the ascent of the infamous 104th Congress, presided over by Speaker Newt Gingrich, and its campaign to eliminate the Endowment completely. In "Command Performance, " Alexander brings a Washington outsider's perspective and an actor's eye for the telling human detail to an anecdote-filled story of the art of politics and the politics of art. And at the start of a new administration in Washington, she reminds us why we need art and why government should be in the business of supporting it.
"Alexander is thoughtful, articulate, high-minded, and thoroughly civilized." -Washington Post Book World"