Julia Louis-Dreyfus chats with Frank Rich, left, and Armando Iannucci at a screening of HBO's "Veep" at the United States Institute of Peace on Wednesday. (Paul Morigi/HBO)

Something is missing from “Veep,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s new executive-branch sitcom: The president.

The “Seinfeld” vet plays a fictional VPOTUS in the HBO series, which debuts April 22, but there’s no commander-in-chief in view. “You never see him, you never hear his name,” executive producer Frank Rich, the former New York Times columnist, told us at a premiere Wednesday at the U.S. Institute of Peace. And that’s intentional, he said — to emphasize this vice-president’s utter distance from the center of power.

(Fine by us: Casting the president — even a generic, fictional one — is always dicey. We hereby propose that Hollywood limit itself to a pre-approved list of actors who have the requisite gravitas for the role. See below.*)

Louis-Dreyfus (tiny and elegant in black lace) swore she did not have a specific POTUS in mind as her boss. “I just had the notion of someone above me,” she told us, “with whom I have a very dysfunctional relationship.” Well, if she could be VP to any president, real or fictional, which would it be? She cut us short with a smile:

“You're trying to get me to affiliate with a president, but I won’t!” The actress is a loyal Democrat, but the show is willfully hard to peg on partisan lines. “You won’t know our party, you won’t see the president,” she said. “We want this show to be about behavior,” not about politics. “We want everyone to join in on the laugh.”

Read earlier: Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in new D.C.-based show, 10/25/11

* Our proposed list of actors pre-approved to play the president of the United States: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Greenwood, Dennis Haysbert, Cherry Jones, Morgan Freeman, Glenn Close, Harrison Ford, Angela Bassett, Tom Hanks, Victor Garber, Sam Shepard, Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington. Any others? Let us know. . . .