|Rob Lowe as||Sam (Samuel Norman) Seaborn||Deputy Communications Director|
|Dulé Hill as||Charlie (Charles) Young||Personal Aide to the President|
|Allison Janney as||C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg||Press Secretary|
|Janel Moloney as||Donna (Donnatella) Moss||Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff|
|Richard Schiff as||Toby (Tobias Zachary) Ziegler||Communications Director|
|John Spencer as||Leo Thomas McGarry||Chief of Staff|
|Bradley Whitford as||Josh (Joshua) Lyman||Deputy Chief of Staff|
Martin Sheen as
|Jed (Josiah Edward) Bartlet||President of the United States|
|Special Guest Star
Stockard Channing as
|Abbey (Abigail Ann) Bartlet M.D.||First Lady|
|Anna Deavere Smith as||Dr. Nancy McNally||National Security Advisor|
|Kirsten Nelson as||Young Mrs. Delores Landingham|
|Jason Widener as||Young Jed Bartlet|
|Don McManus as||Greg Summerhays|
|NiCole Robinson as||Margaret||Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
|Lawrence O'Donnell as||Dr. Bartlet||Jed's father|
|Gregalan Williams as||Robbie Mosley||Military Officer|
|John Bennett Perry as||Bill Wakefield||in Leo's meeting /
(last name from script)
|Kathryn Joosten as||Mrs. Delores Landingham||President's Secretary /
|Fred Ornstein as||Congressman Wade||Harry (first name) /
in Leo's meeting
|Bill Gratton as||Advisor #1||Stock Market meeting|
|Melissa Fitzgerald as||Carol||Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
|Devika Parikh as||Bonnie||Communications' Aide|
|William Duffy as||Larry||Congressional Liaison|
|Peter James Smith as||Ed||Congressional Liaison|
|Kim Webster as||Ginger||Assistant to Communications Director|
|Patrick Thomas O'Brien as||Hanson||Dem. Party Strategist|
|Christopher Murray as||Tony Phillips||Dem. Party Strategist|
|Shelley Malil as||Renfro||Dem. Party Strategist|
|Angelo Tiffe as||Greenway||Dem. Party Strategist /
|Jayne Lynch as||Reporter in Briefing Room||Lucy /
(name from another script)
|Charles Noland as||Reporter||Steve|
|E.E. Bell as||Advisor #2||Stock Market meeting|
|Robert A. Becker as||Monohan||Minister|
|Trevor Eddy as||Young Bartlet's Friend|
|Doris McMillon as||Sandy||Reporter / Newscaster|
|Ivan Allen as||Newscaster||Roger Salier|
|Lewis Grenville as||Reporter|
|Wendy Poole as||Staffer|
It is obvious that Martin Sheen has no trouble being presidential, but while he and his character have a lot in common, he maintains they are definitely not identical. "He won a Nobel Peace Prize for economics and he speaks Latin as well," says Sheen. "I can't speak English properly and I can't balance a check book."
"Inside the West Wing: The final term"
by Jim McAteer
February 28, 2001
Wed. 5/16 - Season finale (Aaron and Tommy had to cut NINE minutes! Can we say DVD bonus footage? Aaron says it's still Tommy's best work yet).
Posted at AaronSorkin@yahoogroups.com
by List Owner
May 12, 2001
[Emily] Procter's Ainsley doesn't make it to Mrs. Landingham's funeral in tonight's season finale, perhaps because she's busy dealing with the president's legal trouble for withholding information about having multiple sclerosis.
"Either that or she was just being rude," Procter said. "But I can't imagine that. If Ainsley could have been at Mrs. Landingham's funeral, I'm sure she would have been. But she's probably in the [White House] basement doing something. Maybe working on the climate control. Who knows?"
"Ainsley role puts actress in tough spot"
by Rob Owen
May 16, 2001
Thanks for your great words on the finale. I loved writing it and it was so much fun to shoot. Martin [Sheen] started crying during the table read and it just got better from there. I think Tommy [Schlamme] absolutely came out of himself. "Brothers in Arms" is a song that's haunted me since the first time I heard it 15 years ago, and I relished the chance to write it into a script. Kirsten (Delores) was a gift, and it makes me sad that we can't use her again... I never intended it as a cliffhanger. Young Mrs. L. tells us that putting his hands in his pockets means "You're gonna do it. We're in." Nor was Mrs. Landingham coming into the Oval Office meant to be a ghost. We went to the wide shot where Bartlet's talking and she's not there to make it clear that Bartlet's talking to himself... and trying to find the best part of himself the way she would have. - Aaron Sorkin
Posted at AaronSorkin@yahoogroups.com
by List Owner
May 17, 2001
Here's the translation included with "The West Wing" shooting script:
"Am I really to believe that these are that acts of a loving God? A just God? A wise God?" Bartlet exclaims. "To hell with your punishments. I was your servant here on Earth. And I spread your word and I did your work. To hell with your punishments. To hell with you."
"'West Wing' Ends Season Powerfully"
by Lynn Elber
May 17, 2001
"If he doesn't run, it's the wrong message," says Eileen Curras, 38, of West Kendall, who was diagnosed with MS in February.
Curras, whose husband died in 1998 and who struggles to work part-time to support her 7-year-old daughter, Francesca, saw her own life mirrored in the way the fictional president's staff treated him in the moments before the fateful press conference.
"That was realistic," she says. "They treated him like he was no longer in control -- giving him instructions over and over as if he couldn't remember them."
"Life looks to art, 'West Wing' about MS bias in workplace"
by Fred Tasker
May 19, 2001
No, there was nothing that standards and practices found objectionable in the latin. As for the clergy, there were many of them on the set while we shot the scene (some of them were used on camera.) I was introduced to a minister and said, "You know he's about renounce God, right?" The minister said, "Yeah, I saw rehearsal, it's gonna be great." I said, "That's fine, but am I going straight to hell?" He said, "Maybe for other stuff, but not for this." Then he gave me a pretty good talking-to about how true people of faith are supposed to question God. And about how those who don't are usually the ones who end up sending their money to guys with cable TV shows.
I think there's plenty of evidence that Bartlet's faith is important to him: The meeting with Karl Malden in Sabbath Day, dressing down Jenna Jacobs in The Midterms, his meeting with Chinese refugee in Shibboleth, his friendship with Al Caldwell, but nowhere do I think it was more strongly expressed than in Two Cathedrals.
Bartlet's the son of a man who, we learn, is an intellectual Fredo. The father, obviously convinced that he married some Catholic whore, treats his son terribly for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the son has adopted and clearly loves his mother's religion. The speech in the cathedral directed as much to his father as it was to God. Thus the cigarette.
Bartlet has a degenerative disease. He's lied about it and has to reveal it to the country. His presedency is in jeopardy. He has a job that's virtually impossible to do well; one in which he's responsible for people dying all the time. 57 people are trapped inside an embassey. Mrs. Landingham was senselessly killed. As she said, he's having a bit of a day.
He made his peace with God. Mrs. Landingham's appearance in the penultimate scene wasn't a ghost. He was talking to himself, using her memory to coax himself in the right direction. Tommy was sure to show you the wide shot of Bartlet talking with nobody else in the room. And when the scene was done, he looked out at the storm that he was sure God had sent just to mess with him, and realized it was God sending him His strength. And he baptized himself in it. And as he passed by the church in the motorcade, a custodian, a child of God, picked the cigarette butt off the ground, and we cut back to Bartlet, who sensed something move inside of him.
It's never my intention offend anybody or be reckless with things that are important to others. I meant the episode as a tribute to faith. - Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin
Posted at mightybigtv.com Forum
by Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin
May 29, 2001
"It wasn't done cavalierly, believe me," said Thomas Schlamme, the executive producer who gave Joosten the fateful phone call [about Mrs. Landingham's demise].
Schlamme said he and Aaron Sorkin, the series' creator, saw a chance to explore in flashback style the relationship between Martin Sheen's President Bartlet and his father through the woman who worked for both of them.
"It was a terrible thing that we would lose this wonderful actress, who was so good and so loyal to the show, but it really did add a tremendous amount of understanding to the president of the United States, at a time it was really necessary," he said.
"A Death Riles 'West Wing' Family"
by David Bauder
June 13, 2001
"There were so many times in the past two seasons when they'd call me and alert me that I'd be working in the NEXT, only to be recalled the next day to hear 'Oh, Aaron [Sorkin] changed his mind.'" (In fact, Matheson was set to appear in the season finale before Sorkin did an about-face.) Matheson takes it in stride. "I'm ready to serve my country and my president." - Tim Matheson
"In the Wings"
by Dan Snierson with Jeff Jensen and Steve Daly
June 13, 2001
As for the actress who uncannily replicated the young Landingham in the flashbacks, Joosten said the choice was her idea. "She's a friend. She knew me. I recorded all of her lines so that she could hear the cadence. She was very good. My adult children were sitting there going 'Whoa! Has she got you pegged!' " Joosten also dismissed suggestions there had once been romantic feelings between her character and young Bartlet. "I doubt Mrs. Landingham would be interested in a child."
"Deceased West Wing presidential secretary may return but unsure how or when"
by John McKay
June 14, 2001
Our day began at dawn in a seventh-floor room with views of flying buttresses and patches of green. This was the extras' holding area, where we'd regroup and pass the hours reading, chatting, napping or snacking on whatever the caterers laid out on long card tables: eggs, Danishes, coffee and sweetened ice tea, bananas.
Every so often a peppy production assistant with a head-set and rotini-shaped curls would bounce in, make an announcement or herd us into a new room. Two makeup artists also trolled the area, nabbing extras for makeovers and a quick hair fix.
Our big scene involved most of the major cast members, including Rob Lowe (a k a Sam Seaborn) as a pallbearer, TV president Martin Sheen and first lady Stockard Channing as front-row mourners; a pastor, ushers and altar boys and girls plucked from the cathedral's ranks; and all 250 of us dressed in our funereal best. The shoot was scheduled for after lunch. That left eight hours to sit around -- or seek out a spot in the limelight.
A dark-haired lawyer who works for the House of Representatives and moonlights as an extra (with about 50 titles on his résumé) became my ad hoc "acting" coach. Following his lead, we slipped onto the elevator to the ground level, where they were filming the motorcade's sweeping arrival and the president and first lady's entrance into the cathedral.
His advice: Make yourself available because in a crunch you could be picked from the sidelines. It worked -- for him, at least. He was handed a tan trench coat, a pair of Ray Bans and a plastic earpiece, and was told to take his position out front as a Secret Service agent.
I, however, did not get selected but remained in the shadows, watching Sheen and Channing in Jackie O glasses walk hand-in-hand through the carved portal.
His second recommendation: Act like you belong. So, I settled into a pew, grabbed a program (the January wedding of George Will's son), looked bereaved and secretly watched a tête-à-tête between the president and his aide, John Spencer. When the president wanted a moment alone (cameras still rolling), I was ushered down the aisle by the Secret Service agent and out into the blinding noon sun, where a crowd of star-gazers cheered anytime someone -- famous or not -- exited. I walked up and down the nave a half-dozen times, which, as I later learned, was just a warm-up for the day's denouement.
"Where there is hatred, let me sow love . . . Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. Amen." Over and over, we murmured the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi. Stand, read, sit; rise, read, rise, read. For hours. The sun set. We got a bathroom break. Darkness fell. We chewed Tootsie Rolls, drank coffee, smoked. More sitting, standing, reciting -- until the heavenly words echoed from the altar to the exit door: "It's a wrap."
The season finale aired May 16, and I watched it with much anticipation -- not so much for the cliffhanger ending but for my (cross fingers) TV debut. The "West Wing" film crew shaved 15 hours 50 minutes off the funeral scene -- reducing it to 15 minutes, with two commercial breaks. Yet in that short sequence, with my nose pressed to the screen, I could have sworn that the shadowy figure in the background was I. If only the president had moved a little to the left, you would have seen me, too.
"A Day in The Life of a 'West Wing' Extra"
by Andrea Sachs
July 5, 2001
All the more reason that "The West Wing" season finale astounded viewers of faith. President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) displayed unrepentant anger at God over the death of his secretary, a scene that rang true to many viewers.
"Rather than just dropping a religious character in where it seems out of place, this guy is really dealing with cosmic questions of faith," Quentin Schultze, [a communication professor at Calvin College] said. "It came out of that struggle and seemed a totally natural fit."
"Religion portrayed in prime time rarely reflects reality"
by Rob Owen
July 15, 2001
The president's symbolic body language -- a smiling, hand-in-pocket salute to his late personal secretary, Mrs. Landingham -- signaled a determination to fight for his political life rather than resign under pressure.
"I don't think I did a good enough job in conveying that," Mr. Sorkin said.
"Sorkin's drug subplot ending"
by Ed Bark
July 22, 2001
Dallas Morning News
Our first two seasons we had Peter Parnell, who wrote The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, Hyde in Hollywood, Romance Languages and Flaubert's Latest, all of which debuted at Playwrights Horizons in New York. He was also my first writing teacher. ... he told me which books might be banned from Bartlet's prep school ... - Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin
Posted at mightybigtv.com Forum
by Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin
July 22, 2001
Some South Asian actors have had it easier than others. Malil, born and raised in Cochin, Kerala in India, until his family immigrated to Texas in 1974, said he had a manager within 24 hours of arriving in Los Angeles six years ago and his first audition within a few weeks. He's been a regular working actor since then, appearing on "ER" and several other shows, including the season finale of "The West Wing."
He was also featured in a popular Budweiser commercial, which led to a role in a sitcom pilot, "Bad News, Mr. Swanson," that FX will decide whether to add to its lineup next week. A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, Malil said his ethnicity has so far proved "very serendipitous." He believes that seeing himself as just another actor, ethnicity aside, has enabled producers and casting directors to see him the same way.
"I've done those roles--the cab drivers, the 7-Eleven clerks, the hotel managers. But I've also played professionals like doctors [on 'Party of Five'], or a Democratic Party strategist ['The West Wing']. Whether I'm Indian or not hasn't played a part, and I've not encountered any discrimination. If anything, it's been a blessing. I couldn't ask to be more ethnic."
"South Asian Actors Find Little Support, Lots of Stereotypes"
by Kavita Daswani
July 27, 2001
Los Angeles Times
For instance, in the spring, Mr. Sorkin submitted a scene for the finale of "The West Wing" in which the president's secretary describes his father with a five-letter anatomical reference. Alan Wurtzel, NBC's president for research and media development, who is in charge of network standards and practices, initially refused to let Mr. Sorkin use it.
Mr. Sorkin, however, pleaded strongly for it, arguing that the character, by her nature a prim woman, was making a serious statement by using an epithet. "It was the right word and the slightly startling nature of it was really what you needed," Mr. Sorkin said.
Just days before the episode was to be shown, Mr. Wurtzel relented. "Here was the point that won me over," Mr. Wurtzel said. "I know who this character is, and the very fact that you would never think she would say that is significant -- all of a sudden there is a resonance with respect to that dialogue."
"As Cable Applies Pressure, Network TV Spouts Expletives"
by Jim Rutenberg
September 2, 2001
New York Times
Preparing Mr. Bartlet for a news conference at which he was to disclose his illness, the White House press secretary told him to start by calling on a medical reporter in a certain seat who, strange to say, had my name.
This fictional Dr. Lawrence K. Altman was expected to ask the same types of medical questions that I have asked over many years in interviewing real presidents and presidential candidates about their health.
Instead, Mr. Bartlet passed over my Hollywood doppelgänger for a political reporter, as the frame froze for a summer respite.
Though disappointed that my double was denied the opportunity to probe the veils around the president's condition, I was not surprised at the president's move.
I wish my screen-self could have interrogated President Bartlet about his health. But despite my fictional counterpart's nonspeaking role, I hope the dramatizations will encourage candidates to be more truthful about their health problems.
"Very Real Questions for Fictional President"
by Lawrence K. Altman, M.D
October 9, 2001
New York Times
With the aid of his valued assistant editor, Arge O'Neal, Bill's contribution to the episode was significant. For example, after the memorial ceremony in Act III, President Bartlet asks the Secret Service to seal the cathedral. Alone with his god, Bartlet vents his frustration over the senseless tragedies that have plagued his personal and political life. In a scene paced with an indomitably dramatic intensity, Bartlet walks down the cathedral's aisle flinging the invective, "You're a son-of-a-bitch, you know that?" toward the altar. "Have I displeased you, you feckless thug?" he implores the cut-glass imagery.
Bill's editing of this powerful sequence was made possible by a maximum amount of coverage from director Schlamme, which allowed Johnson to cut between angles, tracking in front and behind the walking president, as well as a dolly shot from the side following the character of the president past the cathedral's atmospheric columns, candles and pews.
"I listened to the words of the script," Bill [Johnson] explained, "and stayed with the emotions of the actor. As my teacher, Craig McKay, had put it, 'A good editor knows where to be, when.' The director and I did a couple of little line cuts to trim the dialogue, but basically the way I edited the scene was what ended up in the broadcast."
CUT TO THE CHASE
Perhaps Bill's most spectacular editorial contribution to "Two Cathedrals" came during a compelling scene in Act IV. With thunder crashing outside his office windows, President Bartlet has to face the decision of whether to declare his candidacy for re-election at an impending press conference. Forgetting himself for a second, he calls out to the deceased Mrs. Landingham and -- just as so often before -- she walks through the door.
Sitting in chairs facing each other, the presidential secretary reminds the president that "there are people way worse off than you." In tightly subjective POV shots edited from one face to the other, the image of Mrs. Landingham reminds Bartlet of his purpose as president and of all the people who are depending on him to run again. Then, timed with a flash of lightning, Bill [Johnson] cut to an overhead shot of stark objectivity revealing that the chair Bartlet is confronting is totally empty. It's a heart-stopping moment. And the cut was all the editor's.
"They had filmed it both ways, with and without Mrs. Landingham in the scene," Bill [Johnson] recalled. "But when I saw the dailies, I immediately realized that inserting the take with the empty chair would have a tremendous impact. So that's the one I used and we never looked back. After getting into the mindset of the people in the scene through alternating tight close-ups, dropping back to a wide shot with the empty chair revealed to the audience what was actually happening in the scene."
Bill [Johnson] screened his version for the director and it stood as he cut it. "This was one of those miraculous, wonderful experiences you'll have every once in a while as an editor when the scripting, acting and photography is so good that everything just falls into place," he said. "That's when the editing feels almost inevitable. It comes so naturally that you don't have to work the material too hard to get to the final finished product."
"Bill Johnson's Presidential Editing"
by Jay Ankeney
October 17, 2001
"The last episode I did of 'The West Wing.' We were looking for Martin Sheen at about 17 and Mrs. Landingham at about 22. That was not easy. It wasn't just about a look, but a quality that each actor has," Scott revealed. "I wanted to hire actors that would make you say, 'Wow! That is Kathryn Joosten at 22. That is Martin Sheen as a teenager.'" - Kevin Scott
"Casting Qs with Kevin Scott"
by Bonnie Gillespie
November 1, 2001
Back Stage West
Full Interview in Casting Qs
He [James Gandolfini] told his agent David Brownstein he was "stunned -- I totally didn't expect it" when he heard his name called as the winner [of the Emmy]. He said he fully expected Martin Sheen to win. He described Sheen's performance as "awesome."
"The Emmy Awards -- the day after"
by Army Archerd
November 6, 2001
And at the Emmy Awards, when "The Sopranos'" James Gandolfini was announced as best actor in a drama--an honor most pundits felt Sheen would claim after his showy Latin-spouting monologue to God during the second-season finale--reporters watching on monitors across from the Shubert Theatre erupted in cheers.
"Aaron Sorkin's Spin Cycle"
by Brian Lowry
November 21, 2001
Los Angeles Times
At the end of a scene in last season's finale where Bartlet launched into a profane tirade against God in the middle of National Cathedral, Schlamme decided to pan the camera up to the stained-glass ceiling, which resembled an eye -- presumably the eye of God watching this angry mortal -- giving the sequence a kind of mythic quality.
That shot, like many moments on the series, was conceived at or near the last possible moment.
"'Wing' man: Producer-director helps shape a hit"
by Alan Sepinwall
March 3, 2002
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rejected yet another broadcast indecency complaint against a television station. The complaint was filed over the September 19, 2001 repeat airing of The West Wing episode where President Josiah Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, curses God.
In a scene set in a church, President Bartlet screams "Have I displeased you, you feckless thug?" and "to [H--l] with our punishments! To [H--l] with you!"
Randy Sharp, special projects coordinator for the American Family Association, filed the complaint. He says with this dismissal, the FCC has thumbed its nose at the American people and Congress, whose laws they are charged with enforcing.
Charles Kelly, the FCC’s Chief of the Investigations and Hearings Division, responded in an April 18 letter that his hands were tied. While he acknowledged that Section 1464 of Title 18 of the United States Code, prohibits the broadcast of profane language, he added that "we find that the material you describe is not actionably profane."
Michael Schwartz, CWA’s vice president for government relations, says the complaint against The West Wing episode makes an arguable case.
"I am sure that the majority of this show’s viewers, which is millions of Americans, were severely offended by this language coming into their homes," he told C&F Report.
"However, I feel the real reason for this violation was not so much an intent by the show’s producers to offend," he added, "but simply a lack of talent on the part of the show’s writers. They do not have the personal vocabulary, or the time to craft a truly compelling confrontation between a modern-day Job and God without resorting to profanities."
"FCC Says Cursing God 'OK'"
by Martha W. Kleder
May 2, 2002
Accepting his [Humanitas] prize, Sorkin recounted how when he was filming the winning episode in a cathedral in Washington, he went over to a clergy member and told the man that the scene they were about to film had a character admonishing God.
"And (the clergyman) said, 'That's great,' " Sorkin said. "And I said, 'So I'm not going to hell?' And he said, 'Well, not for this, but let's face it ...' "
"'Iris,' 'Anne Frank' scribes top Humanitas honor roll"
by Borys Kit
June 26, 2002
Officials at Washington DC's National Cathedral have banned location filming after they spotted Martin Sheen's presidential character on The West Wing put a cigarette out on their floor.
Cathedral staff nixed director David Dobkin's plans to shoot a scene for upcoming comedy The Wedding Crashers at the US capital building after they caught Sheen's President Jed Bartlet trashing a cigarette.
Dobkin says, "The West Wing had filmed there, and Martin Sheen had put a cigarette out on the floor and walked out, and it was on the show.
"They were really upset about it, so they were not allowing filming anymore."
"Cathedral Staff Ban Filming after Sheen Smoking Gaffe"
May 30, 2005
Bradley Whitford, an Emmy winner for playing Josh Lyman, paced through a mental list of episodes. He picked Mrs. Landingham's funeral, the second-season finale. In a series of touching flashbacks, it showed how Mrs. Landingham, President Josiah Bartlet's (Martin Sheen) personal secretary, helped shape his life from young adulthood to the Oval Office. It had her service in the National Cathedral, and also featured a stormy night, Bartlet weighing whether to run for re-election, and a decisive news conference. It was beautifully shot.
"I remember thinking that if this were a play, it'd be up for a Pulitzer," Whitford said.
by Brett Johnson
May 9, 2006
Ventura County Star