Meanwhile, the staffers deal with the crisis caused by a bomb that explodes at a University of Iowa swim meet. Also, Charlie Young (Dulé Hill) revisits the idea of hiring Deborah Fiderer (Lily Tomlin) as Bartlet's executive secretary.
|Rob Lowe as||Sam (Samuel Norman) Seaborn||Deputy Communications Director|
|Stockard Channing (Part 2) as||Abbey (Abigail Ann) Bartlet M.D.||First Lady|
|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 Stars|
|Ron Silver as||Bruno Gianelli||Campaign Strategist|
John Amos as
|Admiral Percy "Fitz" Fitzwallace||Chairman of the Joint Chiefs|
Lily Tomlin (Part 2) as
|Debbie (Deborah) Fiderer||Secretarial candidate|
|Anna Deavere Smith as||Dr. Nancy McNally||National Security Advisor|
|Allison Smith (Part 2) as||Mallory O'Brian||Teacher / Leo McGarry's daughter|
|Amy Adams (Part 1) as||Cathy||Farmer's Daughter|
|NiCole Robinson as||Margaret||Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
|Renée Estevez as||Nancy||Aide|
|Joan MacIntosh (Part 1) as||Mrs. Meredith Walker||Secretarial candidate|
|Valorie Armstrong (Part 1) as||Mrs. Harrison||Secretarial candidate|
|Art Chudabala (Part 1) as||Peter Lien||Congressman from Texas|
|Alan Dale (Part 1) as||Mitch Bryce||Secretary of Commerce|
|Victor McCay as||Peter|
|Danielle Harris (Part 1) as||Kiki||Girl that Tyler adores|
|John Gallagher Jr. as||Tyler||Indiana volunteer|
|Ernestine Jackson (Part 1) as||Fiona||Diner Owner|
|Joel Marsh Garland (Part 1) as||Cap||Cathy's boyfriend|
|John P. Connolly (Part 2) as||Matt Kelley||Father of college-age daughter|
|Don Perry (Part 2) as||Muriel Keith|
|Allan Wasserman (Part 2) as||Donald McKittridge||Director of White House
Office of Presidential Personnel
|Andrew McFarlane (Part 2) as||Anthony Marcus||Simon's Little Brother|
|Marina Gonzalez Palmier (Part 1) as||Civilian|
|Dan Gerrity (Part 1) as||Civilian|
|Jack Tate (Part 1) as||Civilian|
|Kim Webster as||Ginger||Assistant to Communications' Director|
|Peter James Smith (Part 1) as||Ed|
|William Duffy as||Larry||Congressional Liaison|
|Kris Murphy as||Katie||Witt (last name) / Reporter|
|Timothy Davis-Reed as||Mark||O'Donnell (last name) / Reporter|
|Tori Reid (Part 1) as||Aide|
|S.E. Perry (Part 1) as||Officer||Tommy|
|Larry Cox (Part 1) as||Staffer|
|Melissa Fitzgerald as||Carol||Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
|Constance Pfeiffer (Part 1) as||Elderly Woman|
|Ron Newell (Part 1) as||Store Manager|
|Rohn Thomas (Part 1) as||Sy|
|Tommy LaFitte (Part 1) as||Earl||Fiona's husband|
|Danielle Jones (Part 1) as||Friend||with Kiki|
|Jennifer Armour (Part 1) as||Friend #2||with Kiki|
|Amy Harmon (Part 1) as||Volunteer|
|Harry O'Toole (Part 1) as||Man at Counter|
|David Early (Part 2) as||Bartender|
|Aaron Marcus (Part 2) as||Deskman|
|Jeff Gage (Part 2) as||Train Conductor|
|Susan Allenbach (Part 2) as||Driver|
|Robert Noble (Part 2) as||Butler||edited out of Part 2 alone|
|John Fletcher (Part 2) as||Photographer|
|Thomas Crawford (Part 2) as||Bill Lacey||Chairman|
|Randolph Brooks as||Arthur||Leeds (last name) / Reporter|
|Albert Owens (Part 2) as||Senator||Fred Shuler|
|Mary-Pat Green (Part 2) as||Senator (Choate)|
He [Aaron Sorkin] also hopes to put Bartlet on a train for the first six episodes of that fourth season, taking the show on the road for a series of whistle-stops "all over the country."
"Sorkin's drug subplot ending"
by Ed Bark
July 22, 2001
Dallas Morning News
"I still have to figure out a season premiere." - Aaron Sorkin
"Unscripted Angst at Writers Guild Forum"
by Kristina Sauerwein
June 10, 2002
Los Angeles Times
This episode (I forgot to ask for the title, dagnabbit!) revolves around the president's daily diary (not, as Aaron pointed out, "Dear Diary, today she looked at me," but..), the ledger of his activities during the day.
Posted at AaronSorkin@yahoogroups.com
by List Owner
July 21, 2002
Notes from a L.A. book signing with Aaron Sorkin
The president and his staff are coming to Western Pennsylvania. Yes, George W. Bush will be here next week for a Mike Fisher fund-raiser, but we're talking about the television president -- Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and his staff on "The West Wing."
NBC's hit political drama will film a quarter of its two-hour season premiere in the region, which doubles as Indiana, including two days on a farm.
Producer Neal Ahern Jr. has already set up a production office in a Downtown hotel for the shoot, which will last from Aug. 20 to 27. In "The West Wing's" two-hour season opener, Bartlett [Bartlet] will make a speech at a soybean farm about alternative energy sources. Press secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) will be there, too.
"We'll be out in farm country," said Ahern. "We found several options. It might be in an area of Mercer County."
In the episode, communications director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) and his assistant Donna Moss (Janel Moloney) get left behind and spend much of the episode trying to catch up with the president's motorcade.
Other locations find the trio on country roads, at a remote gas station, a diner and a train station.
"The West Wing" shoot will be the first extensive Hollywood production in the region since "The Mothman Prophecies" filmed here in early 2001. Ahern said he and his crew scouted locations in Indiana; Austin, Texas; Wilmington, N.C., and Maryland, but the work of the Pittsburgh Film Office and a recent visit sold producers on Pennsylvania.
Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, which represents Allegheny and the 10 counties that make up Southwestern Pennsylvania, said discussion began with "West Wing" producers about four weeks ago. Keezer was in Los Angeles on business, heard they were looking for locations and met with them to tout the benefits of filming in Western Pennsylvania.
"We were the only film office that was able to take our photos [of locations] and present them in person, which is real important because this business is a relationship business," Keezer said. "People buy from people they know."
After that meeting, Keezer followed up with additional pictures and a box filled with two pounds of soybeans "so they wouldn't forget. It was a fun little marketing thing and it did get their attention, which is half the battle with these things."
She drove producers through Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Armstrong, Lawrence and Mercer counties on their scouting trip -- 400 miles in a single day.
"Dawn Keezer, who's incredible, convinced us to come out here," Ahern said. "I scouted [locations] with [executive producer] Tommy Schlamme on July 19 and he said, 'Neal, we're staying here.'"
Ahern said Western Pennsylvania appealed to him over Maryland because the farms were older.
"These people owned these farms in their family for 150 years, which was a great turn-on for us," Ahern said. "That's what it's all about, the center of America, and that's what Tommy was looking for."
Another bonus: Ahern said Pittsburgh has the infrastructure -- talent, crews, equipment -- to support the "West Wing" shoot. "Pittsburgh has a great pool of people," he said. "It's just been incredibly friendly here and helpful."
After filming in Pennsylvania, some of "The West Wing" crew will continue on to Washington for a few additional days of shooting before returning to the show's home base on Warner Bros. sound stages in Burbank, Calif.
"West Wing' to film here"
by Rob Owen
July 31, 2002
NBC's The West Wing could be without a national security adviser next season now that Anna Deavere Smith has elected to join the new CBS drama Presidio Med. While Smith would love to keep her gig in President Bartlet's administration -- "That's what I'm campaigning for," she says -- CBS insiders say her contract allows only one guest spot a season (and no, it doesn't matter that Uberproducer John Wells is responsible for both Presidio and The West Wing).
"On the Air"
by Lynette Rice
August 2, 2002
A farm that grows soybeans in a small town like Volant was apparently exactly what was needed for the two-hour season premiere of "The West Wing," NBC's political drama about a fictional president and his staff.
The Lawrence County Tourist Promotion Agency two weeks ago received word of the planned filming but couldn't release the information to the public until Monday afternoon.
"We were walking around with stupid grins on our faces but we couldn't say anything until the agreement was signed," said JoAnn McBride, agency executive director.
She said the agency learned in June that the Pittsburgh Film Office was looking for a farm with soybean plants, and a small town with a secluded gas station, train station and general store.
"I e-mailed our members and everyone came up with ideas and went to work filming and taking pictures of the area. It was a real community effort," Ms. McBride said of the 170 agency members.
The agency is not permitted to name the farm, but Ms. McBride did say that a quarter of the two-hour season premiere will be filmed in and around Volant, which will stand in for the state of Indiana.
"'West Wing' to film in Volant"
by Sherris Moreira-Byers
August 6, 2002
JoAnn McBride, executive director of the Lawrence County Tourist Promotion Agency, is thrilled the county sites were chosen. The agency has known for weeks about the possibility the show would come there, but weren't able to disclose details to anyone until the plans were definite. "Now that we're allowed to tell, we're shouting it from the rooftops," said Janet Falotico, assistant director.
"'West Wing' cast coming to Volant"
August 7, 2002
This rural village, known locally for its shopping, will be a campaign stop for President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and several "West Wing" cast members, said Nancy Mosser, local casting director for the production.
A soybean farm will double for one in Indiana where the president will speak about alternative energy sources. Allison Janney, who plays press secretary C.J. Cregg, will be there too, she said.
Communications director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) and Lyman's assistant Donna Moss (Janel Moloney) get left behind and spend a good part of the episode trying to catch up to the president.
"It sort of focuses on them on the road. It's a whole different atmosphere from the White House where we normally see them. The script is funny," Mosser said.
"Season premiere of 'West Wing' is coming to Lawrence County"
by Laure Cioffi
August 9, 2002
The portion of the episode filmed in the Volant area will be like "a planes, trains, and automobile adventure" according to Ms. Mosser, and will include actors Sheen, Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney.
"It's a very funny script. It will be (these actors) on the campaign trail, and this area will be a stop on the campaign trail," said Ms. Mosser. She added that they are still looking for someone in the area with a mid-'90s red Jeep Wrangler with an automatic transmission to be used by one of the stars.
"Bit parts a big deal to many would-be actors"
by Sherris Moreira-Byers
August 11, 2002
The Bridgeville Public Library temporarily will be resurrected as a train station for NBC's popular "West Wing" series.
A crew from Warner Brothers, which produces the Emmy-winning drama, is scheduled to spend Aug. 26 at the library filming scenes for the show's season premiere.
The library, on Station Street, is in a former Penn Central Railroad Station that was purchased and renovated in 1968.
Steve Hough, assistant location manager for Warner Brothers, said the exterior of the library will be used as a train station. Hough said crews will begin today building a deck that will extend from the library to a train that three "West Wing" characters will be rushing to board.
Hough said the scene will include deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (played by Bradley Whitford), communications director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) and Lyman's assistant Donna Moss (Janel Maloney). The three will be in a car that speeds down Dewey Avenue and turns onto Station Street toward the train station. The actors will run frantically to the platform and jump onto the train.
"We picked this spot because Bridgeville has a very unused railroad track and it was very easy to basically buy the track and the six-car train for a day," Hough said, adding that the area looks "historic."
More segments will be shot on the train as it travels to Washington, Pa., and stops at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum. Everything will be shot in one day, depending on the weather, Hough said.
Library Director Elaine Downing said the library board worked over the years to keep the former railroad station "authentic-looking." In recent years, the exterior was painted and lanterns consistent with that era were installed.
"Library to serve as train station in 'West Wing' episode"
by Treshea N. Wade
August 14, 2002
Television viewers watching NBC-TV's first episode of "The West Wing" this fall might notice one of the characters wearing an Indiana State University sweat shirt.
Teresa Exline, the university's assistant vice president for communications and marketing, said part of the script in the Emmy Award-winning show's season premiere will deal with Indiana, though she wasn't allowed to give any details.
Other Indiana colleges sent in their own school's colors to be worn during the show, but the actress who will wear the sweat shirt liked ISU's -- a gray sweat shirt with blue lettering -- the best, Exline said.
"'West Wing' character will wear Indiana State sweat shirt in episode"
August 17, 2002
Co-executive producer Christopher Misiano directs this "West Wing" episode. "We're going to be moving buses and a lot of stuff around," he said two weeks ago as he prepped for the shoot. "It's really ambitious."
In the episode, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) attends a campaign rally on an Indiana soybean farm, with portions of Western Pennsylvania substituting for the Hoosier State. Press secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) is on hand for the rally, too.
Communications director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) and his assistant Donna Moss (Janel Moloney) get left behind on the farm and spend much of the episode trying to catch up with the president's motorcade.
"They're out in the field talking some farm business with a local and they just miss it," Misiano hints. "We don't want to tip our hand too much. We go crazy when the NBC promo guys do that: 'Come, see why the butler did it!' "
Suffice it to say, imagine this episode as "The West Wing" version of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."
Later in the day, production moved to an old municipal building that was painted to look like a gas station along a country road.
"Play Hoosier Lottery Here," read one sign on the small building, which promised repairs ("Flats fixed," "Lube," "Tune up") and groceries provided by the proprietor, A. Critlaw.
In addition to the scenes on dusty roads and down at the farm, "West Wing" will also shoot in a motel lobby, at a diner and next Monday, cast and crew will be at the Bridgeville Public Library filming railroad station scenes (the library will be closed that day).
The farm rally, to be shot Friday and Saturday, will employ hundreds of extras. That's complicated enough, but being this far from the show's home base adds additional complexity to the production.
"We're used to it a little bit by virtue of going to Washington, but we have an infrastructure there and you become a little more familiar with it," Misiano said. "[Producer] Neal Ahern set up camp in Pittsburgh and the people he found to work in the production office were astoundingly good. These people were doing things before you thought of them."
With plans to shoot about a third of the two-hour season premiere (airing Sept. 25) in Pennsylvania, Misiano has already directed the remaining scenes on the show's soundstages in Burbank, Calif.
"That's all done. We're already editing that material," Misiano said. "We'll come to Pittsburgh, shoot that material, edit that material and then go back to Washington to shoot a couple scenes a week before the show airs."
At this point in production, episode four is being filmed on the Warner Bros. lot. That requires creative scheduling to accommodate the days cast members will be in the Pittsburgh area filming.
"We've tried to put the trip over a weekend to be able to have some characters here only a day," Misiano said. "Hopefully [when you're watching episode four] you won't really feel like people have departed [to film these scenes in episode one]."
Misiano said Rob Lowe's decision to leave the series later this season had no bearing on his absence from this location shoot.
"Rob is an integral part of this script," he said. "He's actually the main focus back in the White House. The script was written way before any of that happened."
"'West Wing' filming in district creates a buzz"
by Rob Owen
August 21, 2002
A 400-acre farm near Volant is star-struck as Hollywood comes a-knocking this week in the form of "The West Wing" production.
Jeff and Roberta McConnell's dairy farm in Washington Township, Lawrence County, will be one of the stops on fictional President Josiah Bartlet's campaign trail. The production agency needed a soybean farm for the president, portrayed by Martin Sheen, to visit and the McConnell's farm fit the bill.
"Its so exciting. And its crazy," said Mrs. McConnell, who will also be an extra in the two-hour season premier. "We're trying to keep our place looking presentable. When you're going to have 600 or 700 people here, you want your place to look nice."
"Our driveway is like a highway. Our poor dog is not sure who to bark at," said Mrs. McConnell about all the production workers coming and going on her property.
According to Mrs. McConnell, filming started last Wednesday at the Washington Township municipal building, which was outfitted to look like a gas station. The crew will be filming today near a covered bridge near Volant.
Preparations to get the farm ready for filming Friday and Saturday included moving calf hutches used in the dairy operation and building a stage for the president when he greets the crowd on his campaign stop.
"They only want certain things in the background. It's all controlled. Jeff has been at their beck and call," she said, speaking loudly today over the drone of a low-flying plane that was part of a crop-dusting scene. "I feel like my house is being buzzed," she added with a laugh.
Mrs. McConnell said the roads near their farm and other areas of filming have been shut down, and though she knows it's an inconvenience to neighbors, she said it's all part of the fun and will only last a couple of days.
She and her family are able to stay in their home, since only the outside of the house will be filmed. As well as Mrs. McConnell, her daughter Julie, daughter-in-law Caroline, and family from Ohio will be extras. "Jeff and my son Brian did not want to be in the film, but are helping out the production company."
A former Wilmington High School band chaperone, Mrs. McConnell got the band in the filming as well. "They needed a band playing for the president. I told them I knew of just the one," Mrs. McConnell said. About 40 to 45 band members will play, and -- for fairness' sake -- the rest will get to be extras in a crowd scene on Friday. "They (West Wing producers ) will make a nice donation to the band for their part," she said.
The owners of the 100-head dairy farm are still incredulous about the event.
"When I heard their message on our answering machine I just couldn't believe it. I told my family, 'You're kidding, right?'" But reality is setting in for the McConnells as producers, crew, and soon actors and extras, show up at her house.
"The crew has been so nice, very down to earth people. We've really enjoyed working with them," she said. "Its amazing what they've done in such a short amount of time. We're looking forward to Friday and Saturday.
"'West Wing' filming begins"
by Sherris Moreira-Byers
August 21, 2002
[Rick] Carne, the former chief-of staff for Rep. Tony Hall, is running against former Dayton Mayor Mike Turner for the open 3rd District seat held by Hall since 1979.
Sheen, who is filming an episode for the coming season in Pittsburgh, has accepted an invitation to attend a dinner and rally with Carne at the Dayton Marriott on Saturday. A small, private $500-a-plate dinner would be held at 6-7:30 p.m.
"Sheen to appear for Rick Carne"
by Mei-Ling Hopgood
August 22, 2002
Dayton Daily News
"West Wing" was a wet washout.
Martin Sheen and 400 extras from the Mahoning Valley were scheduled to descend upon this Lancaster County borough Friday morning. Instead, rains washed shooting dates for NBC's "West Wing" season premiere back to Sunday and Monday.
Exactly when and where taping will resume is a secret. The extras - selected from open auditions about three weeks ago - have a phone number to call for the meeting place. From there, they will be bused to the shooting site, guarded by a private security firm.
Actually, shooting has been going on most of the week on Old Mercer Road near the Hostettler Farm off Pennsylvania 208.
"Rainstorms delay 'West Wing' shoot"
by Burton Cole
August 24, 2002
The sometimes torrential downpour Thursday soaked the set - a presidential rally area, complete with a grandstand, a sea of empty white chairs and red, white and blue bunting and signs. Cranes with camera booms were silent and dripping as were the many "The only way to make it work is to audition a lot of actors who normally don't audition," said Sepulveda, who made an exception for Mary Louise Parker when offering her the role of Amy Gardner, women's rights advocate and the love interest of Bradley Whitford's deputy chief of staff. Sepulveda terms the casting of Parker his "crowning achievement of the year."official"The only way to make it work is to audition a lot of actors who normally don't audition," said Sepulveda, who made an exception for Mary Louise Parker when offering her the role of Amy Gardner, women's rights advocate and the love interest of Bradley Whitford's deputy chief of staff. Sepulveda terms the casting of Parker his "crowning achievement of the year." vehicles to be used during the taping.
Props, including presidential and American flags, were tucked away in a barn, right next to the McConnell's farming equipment.
"It's a wash"
by Ann-Margaret Lambo
August 24, 2002
New Castle News
When Seth Gruber, 18, of Pulaski Township, and Jim Cherney, 34, of New Wilmington, turned in their pictures and information at "The West Wing" casting call for extras two weeks ago at Westminster College, they were just hoping to get a bit part in the production.
Instead they were chosen as stand-ins for some of the stars of the show during the filming of the two-hour season opener of the political drama.
"I was at work and I started jumping up and down," said Gruber, a recent Wilmington graduate and employee of Perkins restaurant in Neshannock Township. "The manager said you might as well go home, because I kept taking food to the wrong tables."
"There are at least 300 extras," said Cherney. "There are only five or six stand-ins. It has to do with a body shape and size similar to the actors." He is the stand in for Richard Schiff, who plays Toby on the television show.
Cherney, an instructor of speech communication at Westminster College, explained that depending on how much an actor is used in the script, a stand-in could be used for most of the filming, so he had to rearrange his orientation and first-year program schedules at the school.
"I had to work through the school scheduling conflict," he said, adding that Westminster starts classes this week. Both he and Gruber began to work on the sets Tuesday.
"We take the place of the actors for the purpose of framing shots, lighting, and camera angles," said Cherney. "There is an awful lot of set up involved in every single shot. Stand-ins take their place for the purpose of setting the actors up. Then when the actors are ready and the crew is ready, they shoot the scene."
"Its a very slow process, very stop and go, very repetitious," said Gruber, who stands in for a farmer named Cap, a train engineer and a store manager.
During the episode, three of fictional president Josiah Bartlet's aides get lost in the rural farmland of Indiana trying to get to a campaign rally at a farm, and spend most of the episode trying to get there on time.
The aides include Schiff, Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney. "We literally are right there with them," said Cherney, who will be filming a train station scene with them Saturday at Bridgeville, which is southwest of Pittsburgh, along with Gruber. Martin Sheen and Allison Janney are supposed to arrive today.
"They are very friendly, but I wouldn't say they are down to earth," said Gruber. "No matter what they say, goes. Everything revolves around the actors but they are very outgoing." "There hasn't been any angry tempers flaring or storming off like those in this field have a reputation for doing," said Cherney. "They are very professional and very hard working."
Both of them noted that the television characters and the actors are very similar in their characteristics. "On the show, Schiff's character is a cigar-smoking, very intelligent, baseball aficionado," said Cherney, adding that Schiff himself also smokes cigars and knows his baseball better than anyone Cherney's ever met.
Gruber thought that Bradley Whitford's personality was spontaneous and easygoing, similar to his television character.
"At lunch, he's telling stories, very outgoing, very much like his character," said Gruber. "When it's time for him to act, he sings, makes weird noises and spins around. Then he'd go do his part. They all seem to have a pretty good time with it."
Watching the crew work together and create a production has also been exciting for Gruber and Cherney. "A lot of the crew hadn't worked together prior to production. There's an ad hoc sense of structure, but they know what they are doing so well, that they can do that," Cherney said.
He described a scene filmed Thursday at the covered bridge near Volant. "While we were shooting there, it began to rain, so they moved everyone inside of it and adapted to the rain," said Cherney. "They added a line and added the rain to the scene."
The experience won't be forgotten by either of them. Cherney plans on using his experiences during his teaching and Gruber thinks the experience is a plus for his plans to be an opera singer. And both wouldn't mind involvement in future film productions.
"Definitely," said Gruber. "I would be interested in doing different kinds of things to get a variation on the experience," added Cherney. And despite not actually being filmed in the season-opener, both plan to watch the show when it comes out in the fall.
"I enjoyed watching how well everyone worked as a team together," Gruber said. "I want to see how it comes out."
"2 stand in for TV stars"
by Sherris Moreira-Byers
August 25, 2002
Sheen said the series has him "nip and tuck" in the polls with his challenger, a governor from Florida.
"Sheen lends a hand to Hall's pick Carne"
by Rob Modic
August 25, 2002
Dayton Daily News
Actor? Politician? Martin Sheen blurred, bent and ultimately erased the line between the two yesterday while filming the first scene from the season premiere of NBC's "The West Wing" on a Lawrence County farm.
Taking his place at a podium before a crowd of more than 400 extras who cheered his arrival, Sheen quickly and easily won them over.
"Now what is this rally all about?" he asked as the crew worked to position cameras.
"Soybeans!" one person shouted.
"Anarchy!" said another.
"Martin Sheen for president!" screamed a third.
In between takes he told jokes, sang "Love Me Tender" ("Don't quit your day job," one of the extras yelled playfully) and teased fans about upcoming plot developments.
In the episode, Bartlet attends a campaign rally on an Indiana soybean farm, with portions of Western Pennsylvania substituting for the Hoosier State. Press secretary C.J. Cregg (Allison Janney) is on hand for the rally, too.
Toby, deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) and his assistant Donna Moss (Janel Moloney) get left behind on the farm and spend much of the season premiere trying to catch up with the president's motorcade.
The episode, which airs Sept. 25, is titled "20 Hours in America," and begins with Bartlet at the farm rally. Red, white and blue balloons and bunting decorated a stage constructed for the faux president's appearance and extras held signs, including one that read, "Bartlet: Eight more years."
"Don't get me wrong, I like his thinking," Sheen said as cameras rolled, easily becoming his character and segueing into a reference of past plots and the president's wife. "But I think I've probably tested the Constitution about as far as Abb[e]y's going to let me for a little while."
Yesterday's scene was supposed to be filmed Friday but the schedule was reshuffled due to rain. Filming took place near Volant on Kemland Farm, home of Jeff and Roberta McConnell, who sat with their family in the first row of extras during the rally scene.
Roberta watches "The West Wing" regularly, but Jeff doesn't get to see it as often. "Generally it's on in the evenings when we're out in the barn milking our cows," he said.
Roberta, who runs Roberta's Tours of Lawrence County's Amish country, has been amazed by the small army a TV production requires.
"It's been just crazy. That's the only word I can use to describe it," she said, laughing, as she compared the number of vehicles entering and exiting her driveway to a highway entrance ramp. "It's the opportunity of a lifetime, but it's kind of nuts."
Last Tuesday, Roberta watched as a crop duster circled over the farm, waiting for the director's signal to fly into camera range.
"I could tell when they radioed to bring it in because it quit circling and would go to the adjacent farm and go down low," she said. "You could see them spray the crops. We don't do crop dusting here, but they do in Indiana and they have to make it as close to Indiana as possible."'
Roberta said "The West Wing" crew began descending on their property Aug 17, building the platform for Bartlet's speech and doing "what they call dressing the set, getting things ready."
Limousines (for the presidential motorcade) and Indiana State Police patrol cards were parked behind barns to hide them from the camera's view. A kitchen on wheels was brought in to prepare food for the cast and crew.
"It's not just that the food is good, it's the presentation of the food," Roberta said. "Everything is so fancy. It just blows me away. I keep telling them they can stay on another week if they'd like because I don't cook like that."
Lunch was served yesterday afternoon under tents in a nearby mowed cornfield. For four hours prior to that, Whitford, Schiff and Moloney filmed a scene that comes after the big rally and will take up about 90 seconds of the two-hour episode. It's the moment the trio realize they've been left behind. Donna tells Josh there's no "trailer car" in the motorcade they can ride in.
"Good budget cut," says an exasperated Josh. "Good item."
The scene was shot from more than four different angles, requiring changes in camera position. Some takes were punctuated by the sound of helium balloons popping. Other times, filming was delayed due to noise from airplanes overhead or while waiting for the sun to come out from behind a cloud. Whitford, pantomiming, used his hands to attempt to shoo the clouds away.
He said location shooting, though difficult for actors who are away from their families, "gives the show a real legitimacy." All three actors featured in the bulk of the scenes shot here said local residents were welcoming.
Schiff compared filming on a road near an Amish farm to being on a movie studio lot.
"Here we are, doing a political drama, and the people next door are doing an 18th-century Western," he said. "It's like they're just passing through the commissary. That's what it feels like. There's camera trucks and technology everywhere, and then you see a horse and buggy vintage 1852. They've been sweet. They wave, they keep to their business, which is interesting, but they've been very accepting of us."
On Friday, their day off, Moloney said she and Janney went shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh.
"How pathetic are we?" she said, laughing. "We just walked around."
Schiff, who's married to Greensburg native and actress Sheila Kelley ("L.A. Law"), said he didn't get a chance to visit his in-laws, but he was hoping to do so yesterday.
At one point during his visit, Whitford walked along the river, memorizing his lines.
"We spend a lot of our lives in Los Angeles and New York where they're used to seeing actors walk around," Whitford said. "So I had the not uncommon experience when you get out of Los Angeles -- and this happened here in Pittsburgh -- of people telling me I look exactly like that guy on 'The West Wing.' "
"I just tell them, 'I get that all the time.' "
"Cameras roll on Lawrence County Farm for 'West Wing' season premiere"
by Rob Owen
August 26, 2002
It was a typical presidential speech that included a jab at the other political party, a call to the American people and the introduction of new technology that could save the country's taxpayers thousands of dollars.
Then the director yelled, "Cut!"
"NBC drama begins filming at Volant farm"
by Ann-Margaret Lambo
August 26, 2002
New Castle News
Finally, at 3:05 p.m., word came that we were needed on the set! We hurried down the lane, allowed for the first time into the filming area, which consisted of a stage platform with about 300 chairs lined up in front of it. Many of the chairs were filled by other extras who had been on hand since daybreak. We were instructed to find a chair and sit down. Though our group was just told to wear casual clothes suitable for fall, there were other extras dressed as state troopers, Secret Service officers and local dignitaries.
We were told that Sheen would come out and give a talk and we were to clap, cheer and laugh in appropriate places. But first, his stand-in read his speech in a monotone. Then, Sheen bounced onto the stage, in a long-sleeved blue shirt and a red striped tie. The crowd went wild. He was shorter than I expected and had teeth so white I could see their gleam, though I was 11 rows back.
He bantered a little with the crowd, waiting for filming to begin.
Our entire scene consisted of a speech Sheen gives which is no more than 10 sentences long. The first time he read it, we extras enthusiastically laughed, clapped and cheered. This is easy, I thought, expecting the filming to go quickly.
But the director said we cheered too much at one point where a more subtle reaction was called for. Then too little. Then our clapping wasn't quite right. So we did it again. And again. And again. Though I could not figure out what we were doing wrong, we went through about 30 takes, only one of these due to Sheen's forgetting his line.
Amazingly, the star tells the same joke about a farmer over and over, as fresh and funny as the first time. And we don't have to force ourselves to laugh -- it's easy because of the way he delivers it.
The cameras move around, filming us from the front, then the back, then the sides.
In between takes, Sheen tells jokes, recites poetry and even sings a few bars of "Love Me Tender."
Filming was interrupted by numerous breaks. For restrooms, we extras had to walk back to the bus lane where vans picked us up and drove us to a clearing where there were portable toilets and drinks.
By 6 p.m., I noticed a few of the extras had left. The others were quieter, many of them yawning and sunburned. Yet, there were more and more takes until finally, Sheen for the last time, concluded his speech, "This is the time for American heroes, time to reach for the stars!" And we clapped and cheered and waved signs again. And finally, it was time to go home.
A man on stage said, "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Martin Sheen, done for the day!" and everybody applauded, and then we were told to wait while the cast left so we didn't all spill into the farm lane at once. At about 7:15 p.m., we trooped tiredly to the bus. And as we rode out of the farm, the limousines and ambulances and police cars were driving back in with their lights flashing, as the motorcade is being filmed.
And though the day was a lot longer and less exciting and more wearying than I expected, like everybody else I asked, I'm glad I was there.
"A weary day on the set of 'West Wing'"
by Mary Grzebieniak
August 26, 2002
Owner Lavern Thistlethwaite confirmed that her business, Lavern's Restaurant, would be used for filming. The restaurant is located along Route 188 between Jefferson and Waynesburg.
"I'm closed the whole day," Thistlethwaite said, noting the crew is supposed to arrive as early as 5:30 a.m. to begin work.
"The West Wing," which airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC, stars Martin Sheen as fictional president Josiah Bartlett [Bartlet] and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the White House.
Interviewed Monday by phone, Thistlethwaite reported, "There's a bunch here now getting it decorated."
Asked if people will be able to recognize her restaurant in the show, Thistlethwaite said crewmembers were taking her decorations down in order to make the restaurant look plainer.
"They want it to look more like a diner than a restaurant," she said.
James Mahathey, locations manager for "The West Wing," told the Herald-Standard that Lavern's Restaurant was selected for filming because "It's a great-looking diner."
"Right now, it's a little crazy," she [Lavern Thistlethwaite] said. "But it's going to be an experience."
"'The West Wing' to film in Greene County restaurant"
by Frances Borsodi Zajac
August 28, 2002
Lavern Thistlethwaite, the owner of the restaurant, said that she plans to tape her business' television debut. And many others in southwestern Pennsylvania will likely do the same, since much of the two-hour-long opening episode was filmed in the Pittsburgh area.
This past weekend, crews were shooting north of Pittsburgh, where a Lawrence County farm provided the backdrop to the episode's opening scene.
Somewhere along the way, they stop at an out-of-the-way diner, which is where Lavern's comes in.
"(The actors) will sit down, order some food and have a conversation, so it should take up a fair amount of time in the show," said Christie Shirpinski, a publicist for Warner Bros. Studios, which produces The West Wing.
Crews spent all day Tuesday filming the diner scene. All the while, state police troopers shooed curious onlookers away, as the restaurant, turned TV production set, was closed to the public.
"Filming of TV series segment the day's special in Jefferson"
by Cara Host
August 28, 2002
A crew from "West Wing," the popular NBC political drama, transformed Bridgeville's train station-turned-library back into a Midwestern train station, a small-town Indiana train station.
To prepare the library for duty as a the Connersville, Ind., station, the crew spent the week building a mock-concrete platform, and hung station signs on the outer walls of the book repository.
By Saturday, the cameras were ready to roll for a scene in which three presidential staffers inadvertently hop on the wrong train, and end up everywhere but where they want to be. They're in Indiana with the president as he talks to a group of farmers while on the campaign trail.
"'West Wing' films in Bridgeville"
by Tim McNellie
August 28, 2002
When Lawrence County farmer and tour company owner Roberta McConnell saw a message from the Lawrence County Tourism Board that the producers of West Wing were scouting for farms to consider for possible locations for filming this season's first episode, on a whim she composed a quick description of the farm she and her husband, Jeff, and Jeff's brother, Gary, operate near Volant. She hit "send" on the e-mail and pretty much forgot about it.
Then the call came from a Warner Bros. representative in Pittsburgh, who wanted to come see the farm and check it out. He came and Roberta showed him around. He left, and she still didn't get too excited because she knew lots of sites were being considered.
Then more phone calls, visits with more people, video shot and sent to California, more visits, and finally, the last phone call came: They'd like to shoot the episode on the McConnells' Kemland Farm - in two weeks.
The dairy and crop farm would be the scene of a presidential campaign rally set in Indiana. The McConnells wouldn't have to do too much, except get rid of an old cement block shed that wasn't used for much anyway. Oh, and to build a little road through a soybean field (some Roundup and layer of crushed limestone, and voila!, a new road).
For another scene, a nearby township building slated for demolition was transformed into a gas station and general store (complete with Farm and Dairy newspapers).
Using her tour guide network, Roberta McConnell lined up a high school band, tour buses, school buses and the entire family pitched in with four-wheelers for transportation and, unfortunately on the day of filming, tractors, to pull the buses and cars out of the mud.
The production company came armed with more four-wheelers, trucks, booms and enough handheld radios and communication headsets to outfit a small army - which it was.
Filming at the farm was slated for Aug. 23-24, but when long-overdue rains dampened those plans, the schedule was pushed back to Sunday and Monday, Aug. 25-26.
Other scenes were taped earlier in the week at the "general store," along some back roads around Volant, and railroad scenes at the Bridgeville Public Library.
In preparation for the filming, the McConnells' tractors, including some antique models, were positioned strategically as backdrops, as were the farm's combine and haywagon, which was draped with a banner reading "Hoosiers for Bartlet."
Warner Bros.' limousines rolled off car carriers and Indiana State Police look-alike cars added an authentic touch.
Red, white and blue bunting decorated from the dairy barn and pole building machinery shed. A huge flag was suspended from the silo. On filming day, red, white and blue helium-filled balloons dotted the grounds (and unabashedly popped during takes). To the director's dismay, no one could figure out how to silence the noisy birds perched high in the tall machinery shed.
The crew constructed a stage for the "president" to give his speech. Some of the extras were cast as Secret Service agents, others as media, some as Democratic party faithful, and others simply as farmer supporters.
That was the role of extras Don Verelst and his wife, Hope, whose 200-acre farm neighbors the McConnell property. Trying out as extras was Hope's idea; she submitted the picture.
"We haven't been told what we'll be doing," Verelst said at 9:30 a.m., after arriving at the set at 6:15 that morning. He and other extras awaiting their call were camped in a mini-tent city in the McConnells' hayfield beyond the barn.
Mercer County livestock producer John Courtney just came for "something to do." His bearded face immediately won him a role as a farmer supporter extra, too. "Talk about type casting," he shrugged.
But don't look for any seed corn or equipment dealer hats in the crowd. Extras were told to not wear any logos of any type on headgear or clothing. The extras got a taste of what goes on behind the scenes of an Emmy Award-winning television show, like shooting 11 takes over more than one hour to capture just the "right" two-minute footage.
Amid the hoopla of the crowd scene filming, Robert McConnell pauses to think about what she inspired through a little e-mail. "It's been fun!"
But would she do it again?
"Maybe," she hesitates. "Just not the week after the Lawrence County Fair!"
"Tinseltown comes to tiny town"
by Susan Crowell
August 29, 2002
Salem Farm and Dairy
McKay Road was closed during the filming between about 3 and 6 p.m. because the scene portrayed the actors and actresses riding in a pickup truck through the countryside, which in the episode is in rural Indiana.
"It was interesting," Daniel Devic of McKay Road said after watching the action. He said he was watching from his kitchen window and came outside for a closer look.
Devic said that township officials notified residents the filming was to take place.
The area of McKay Road and Saxonburg Boulevard is known as Ivywood, Devic pointed out. "Hollywood comes to Ivywood," he quipped.
To film the segment, a maroon Ford pickup truck was mounted onto a trailer, along with lights and cameras. A larger truck pulled the trailer up and down McKay. In the episode, it will appear as though the pickup is driving along the road.
"'West Wing' turns rural"
August 29, 2002
"It's quiet here," said Roberta McConnell of Washington Township. Her husband, Jeff, and brother-in-law, Gary McConnell, own Kemland Farms, where the two-hour season premiere was filmed. Most of the crew left Tuesday, but the last truck pulled away from the farm Wednesday.
"I don't have anybody outside my bedroom window at 4 a.m.," Mrs. McConnell said. "Everything is gone."
The shooting was "a lot of work and a lot of fun," and something she'd consider doing again.
"It's all been luck. Everything just kind of fell into place for it to be here," Mrs. McConnell said.
As a souvenir, the McConnells got to keep the big American flag that was hung on their machine shed. "Now I have to find a flag pole big enough to put it on," Mrs. McConnell said. "I was really tickled they let me have it."When the cast and crew left Lawrence County, they left behind groceries and supplies used to turn the Washington Township Municipal Building into a general store.
"There was so much stuff over there, and they said we can have it, but we don't need all that," Mrs. McConnell said. So, she called the women's shelter in New Castle. "They were so grateful for that," she said. "That was a good thing that was left behind. That was a good thing for the community."
The extras had only good things to say about Sheen and the way he interacted with everyone.
"He was very nice and very patient. He had lots of patience," said Pat Miller of Hermitage, who played a spectator.
"Martin Sheen was quite impressive on Sunday when he met the band kids," said Westminster College English professor Dr. Richard Sprow, who also played a spectator. "He shook their hands, and he was very personable, very genuine. It gives you a different picture of the stereotype of a star as being very aloof."
"And that's a wrap!"
by Erin Remai
August 29, 2002
Sharon Gehrman-Driscoll's hyphenated name is going to be all over the "West Wing." The director of Minnesotans for Safe Driving, an advocacy group for people injured or killed by substance-impaired drivers, has a friend at Warner Bros. This friend thought Gehrman-Driscoll would be a perfect name for an ENRON-like group that figures prominently in the series, beginning with the 2002 season premiere Sept 25. "They wanted to be very careful. Legally, they don't want to offend anybody. I said, 'I don't care if you use my name. Enough bad people in jail think I'm bad, so what the hell. Do it.' " Gehrman-Driscoll said. She declined to name her WB friend, who likes the name Gehrman-Driscoll so much that it was the name of an insurance company on an episode of "Gilmore Girls."
"This concert was a whole new world"
September 5, 2002
Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune
"One of the most exciting things about this season is that it's no longer last season," said [Aaron] Sorkin. "It's a year later and when I came back to begin writing the show ... I suddenly felt comfortable in my chair again. The show felt good and fun and it felt right."
"'West Wing' boss relieved 2001 is past"
by Pat Nason
September 6, 2002
"When I came back to begin writing the show," he says, "I suddenly felt comfortable in my chair again. The show felt good and fun and it felt right. I think that the cast and crew felt that way, too." - Aaron Sorkin
"This Is Not The Real World"
by Roger Catlin
September 7, 2002
A UT petroleum engineering graduate will make her television acting debut on the September 25 fall premiere of The West Wing, NBC's popular political drama series. Michelle Winslow Norman (B.S.P.E. 1992) answered a July casting call for 200 extras-and wound up in the up-front role of "the mayor's wife," on stage alongside actor Martin Sheen, who plays the President of the United States. Her part includes the spoken line, "Thank you, Mr. President." She also shakes the President's hand as he leaves the stage following a speech to "Air Wing One." In fact, "she shook his hand at least 30 times on different takes," according to her proud husband, fellow engineering-ex Cassidy Norman (B.S.A.S.E. 1993), a U.S. Navy test pilot based at the Naval Air Station, Point Mugu.
Located just an hour north of Los Angeles, the Naval facility has been a frequent site of Hollywood filmings, including Pearl Harbor and Behind Enemy Lines. But when civilian Norman impulsively left a contact number for the West Wing producers, who were actually seeking uniformed military personnel, she got more than she bargained for. "They told me they could use an extra as a background family member," she recalls. When she reported for work dressed in her Sunday best, however, she found that "instead of being in the background, I was being propelled onto the stage, onto the greeting platform. I was shocked. I assume I just 'looked' like a mayor's wife and I fit the bill." For the duration of what both Normans jokingly call her 15 minutes of fame-actually a long, hot 12-hour working day in high heels-she reveled in Hollywood-style pampering: lavish food provided by Warner Brothers and a chance to hang out with West Wing's stars, whom the couple found "all really nice, and very friendly," especially Sheen. "What a rush! And to get paid to boot!" she concludes
"UT Engineering Alumna Scores Role in TV's "West Wing" Season Premiere"
September 9, 2002
University of Texas at Austin College of Engineering - Alumni - News, Reunions & Events
"This is Lora Ducat at Warner Brothers Television," a Friday voice mail said. "I'm a little upset about yesterday's column. . . . You've disclosed information about an episode of the 'West Wing.' This is really problematic." I could not imagine the big deal about me writing that Sharon Gehrman-Driscoll's last names may be used on the NBC-TV show as the identity for an ENRON-like company. G-D is the director of Minnesotans for Safe Driving. I called her back, and Ducat reiterated: "This is a problem. In my contract with Warner Brothers [there is] a no-disclosure agreement. And now you're talking about the subject matter of a television series that hasn't aired yet." Isn't her best defense that SHE DIDN'T TELL ME? "Not really. Doesn't help my case," Ducat said. "All of our publicists here read every newspaper from around the country. This now is in our publicists' hands. I am now in breach of my contract." I had no idea this was so significant. "I just wish in the future that if you are going to get information that you'd ask the person for their source and verify it," Ducat said. As if anybody at WB would've confirmed it! Although Ducat sounded more sanguine by the end of our talk, she kinda snapped, "I'm tempted to have them dub it." In other words, when "West Wing" has its season opening Sept. 25, Gehrman-Driscoll may be edited out. Sorry about that, Sharon.
"Is Paul Magers thinking about changing channels?"
September 10, 2002
Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune
Sorkin says he got the idea from a former presidential staffer.
"A motorcade leaves when the president gets in the car," Sorkin says. "It doesn't wait for anybody. So it's not uncommon for somebody to be left. You go buy a postcard, come out, and it's all gone. When I heard that, I thought, 'This is too good to be true.'" - Aaron Sorkin
""West Wing" creator is eager for new season"
by Gail Pennington
September 10, 2002
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The nationally televised words soared and lifted. Coming as they did on the somber anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, they could be no more timely.
Though brief, the stirring address had the power to rally a nation to the awesome challenges that surround us, with dramatic setting and lighting that added to the message's palpable impact.
"More than any time in American history, our destiny is not of our own choosing" is one of the many memorable phrases leading up to the compelling conclusion: "We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is time for American heroes to reach for the stars."
For a presidential speech it seemed certain to stand with the greats. Unfortunately, it all came from a fictional president, Josiah Bartlet, in an ad for "The West Wing" season opener Sept. 25.
"The Focus Was 9/11"
by Roger Catlin
September 13, 2002
Indiana's wacky time zones have finally gotten the attention of the president of the United States.
That president is Jeb [Jed] Bartlet, the fictional commander-in-chief played by Martin Sheen on NBC's The West Wing.
Indiana Film Commission Director Jane Rulon said she gave the show ideas for road signs, sports posters, newspapers and other props that would help fool viewers into thinking they are seeing the Hoosier state.
Currently, 77 of 92 Indiana counties are in the Eastern time zone but do not recognize daylight-saving time, as the rest of the Eastern time zone does each spring. Those 77 are on New York time from late October until April and on Chicago time the rest of the year.
Another five counties -- near Cincinnati and Louisville, Ky. -- are in the Eastern time zone and illegally recognize daylight-saving time to remain on the same time as neighboring Ohio and Kentucky.
The remaining 10 counties -- located in southwest and northwest Indiana -- are in the Central time zone and are on Chicago time year-round.
"There is always some quirky story about Indiana's funny time zones," said Indiana Commerce Department spokesman Jeff Harris. "This is just more attention. It's usually played in a humorous light, which isn't always the best thing for Indiana, but that's the reality we deal with."
"'President' to tackle Indiana time zone issue"
by Maureen Groppe
September 15, 2002
Greater Lafayette Journal and Courier
[Rudy] Vrbanic, of Creekside, is the only licensed crop-dusting pilot in western Pennsylvania. And he is about to achieve one more distinction.
Vrbanic and his single-engine Piper will appear Sept. 25 on the season-opening episode of NBC-TV's "The West Wing," swooping over a cornfield as the show's President Josiah Bartlet stumps for the Midwest farm vote in the state of Indiana.
"West Wing" producers last month picked Volant in Lawrence County to stand in for middle America and put out a cattle-call for hundreds of Pennsylvanians and Ohioans to yell and scream for actor Martin Sheen. Farmers, townspeople and schoolchildren were easy to come by, but, to put a stamp of authenticity on the heartland farm scene, the producers had to go shopping for a crop-duster.
"The Pittsburgh Film Office called and said they needed a crop-duster and asked if we'd be available," Vrbanic said. "Three or four days later, we got a call from Warner Bros. We met with them a couple of times" and made the deal.
Sheepish about discussing money, Vrbanic said he only charged his going rate.
"I didn't want to gouge them," Vrbanic said. "I didn't want them to go away with a bad taste in their mouth. I want them to come back."
Vrbanic, 52, and his wife, Bonnie, his partner in Vrbanic Aero Service Co., arrived at sunrise Aug. 20 - he in his one-seat plane, she in their car - for filming. While directors cued Rudy to make fast, low sweeps and dizzying, hairpin turns for his flying scene, "Bonnie was picked from the crowd to be a schoolteacher," Vrbanic said. "She is in a close background shot. She's seen walking onto a bus with a student.
"They spent hours doing shots from several angles of Martin Sheen doing a two-minute speech," Vrbanic said. Sheen showed no signs of impatience.
"He was singing and telling jokes to the group of extras," Vrbanic said. "The Wilmington High School band was there, and he went out to shake hands with all of them" until the directors pleaded with Sheen to go back to the podium.
The crop-dusting scene was finished by midmorning.
After filming, producers cautioned Vrbanic that a lot is left on the editing-room floor when they weed through hours upon hours of film for a two-hour show.
Vrbanic learned that his work made the cut on Aug. 28 when he spotted his plane on TV.
"We were watching 'West Wing' ... so now we can put faces and personalities to the names on the credits ... and lo and behold, at the end of the episode, they showed promo clips for the premiere coming up," Vrbanic said with glee. "Out of the hundreds of hours of film they shot and the two hours of the show, they picked us! We're one of five clips!"
"Taking to the Air"
by Chauncey Ross
September 15, 2002
When Jennifer Armour of Eagan tunes in to the Wednesday two-hour season premiere of "The West Wing," she won't just be watching one of her favorite shows.
The 17-year-old budding actress will have her eyes peeled for her own two-minute television debut.
After beating almost 100 other young women this summer in an open audition in Pittsburgh, Armour won out over more experienced actresses from across the country and became "West Wing's" snotty Friend No. 2.
"Oh, it was just amazing," Armour said. "Here I am from Minnesota. I'm new to this."
For six hours spread over two days this summer, Armour performed her two lines over and over.
In her short scene with the show's stars Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney, Armour's teenage character disses the presidential staffers as they try desperately to catch up with the presidential motorcade they've missed. ("Wow, humongous whoop," Friend No. 2 snarks when Schiff's character, Toby, introduces himself as a White House employee.)
"Bit part, big step"
by Tammy J. Oseid
September 23, 2002
St. Paul Pioneer Press
Industry insiders might recognize a familiar face on tomorrow's season premiere of "The West Wing" - John Connolly, the national president of AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists).
In the episode, Connolly plays Matt Kelley, who meets up with senior White House staffers at an airport. This particular episode was shot in Pittsburgh - where Connolly's son works as a student intern/organizer for the Pittsburgh AFTRA local.
Connolly and "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin also go way back - having appeared together in a Syracuse University production of "A Christmas Carol" (Connolly played Bob Crachit, Sorkin played Young Scrooge).
"The Starr Report"
by Michael Starr
September 24, 2002
New York Post
"Did we treat your town OK?" Sorkin asked, adding he got positive reports from the show's cast and crew. "The people couldn't have been nicer, and the location couldn't have been more beautiful. The footage looks terrific. It was a very, very successful trip."
Sorkin said the "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"-type story was inspired by an assistant to President Clinton [Kris Engskov] who had the same job as Charlie (Dule Hill) on "The West Wing."
"A couple years ago, he told Dule that motorcades leave when the President gets in the car. It doesn't wait for anybody. The Secret Service can't have the President sitting there, so it's not uncommon to have people left behind. He talked about running in to buy a postcard and coming out and there was nothing there. That was too good to be true, so I wrote an episode about it."
"Aaron Sorkin wants to put fun back into 'West Wing' "
by Rob Owen
September 25, 2002
One recent episode - which saw three aides missing their ride to the airport during a campaign stop - hit very close to home.
"The same thing happened in Bobby's campaign in 1968," she said at the dinner, hosted by the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law. "His press secretary was running behind the bus trying to catch up with it." - Ethel Kennedy
by Robert Kahn
October 7, 2002
She [Lily Tomlin] happily recites a choice bit of dialogue from the season's opening episode. "What I lack in memory I more than make up for in deductive reasoning," the president tells Fiderer during a rocky job interview.
"Does that come with tights and a cape?" she replies, prompting an annoyed Bartlet to declare, "I think the meeting's over."
"Yes, but let's do this every once in a while," says the spunky Fiderer.
"Tomlin Fills Void on 'West Wing'"
by Lynn Elber
October 7, 2002
The final scene for the season premiere was filmed at sunrise on the Virginia side of the Memorial Bridge as actors Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff and Janel Maloney exit an airport van and start walking towards the bridge. The production utilized a 30foot Technocrane and an insert car and process trailer to film the interior scenes in the airport van.
"ThinkFilm, Inc. Going National"
"I won't pretend that I don't know who Bush is," says [Aaron] Sorkin, "but I was interested in writing about a demonization of intellect. Which didn't start with Bush-Gore -- it didn't even start with Eisenhower-Stevenson. It's peculiarly American: Being tagged as the smartest kid in your class turns into both a sense of arrogance and a sense of weakness -- that an 'egghead' [can't] see us through a world war."
"How the 'West' Was Undone"
by Ken Tucker
November 8, 2002
But one of the nice things about making music for the past 27 years is an awful lot of songs get embedded in the culture. I was waiting to get on stage in Boston and The West Wing was on and there was a school massacre and someone said, 'Tell me why I don't like Mondays.' Then they segued into the song. Of course, it was by f---ing Tori Amos, which I suppose I get paid for. - Bob Geldof
"Still at war with the world"
by Fish Griwkowsky
November 30, 2002
"I think some of that was the election [story line], some of these were not our best episodes, some of it was that we got hit with 'The Bachelor' and people started to leave, given an excuse," [Thomas] Schlamme said.
"Shedding light on murky look of 'West Wing'"
by Phil Rosenthal
January 15, 2003
According to one West Wing insider, who asked not to be named, Sorkin had only two weeks after the end of last season to begin writing this year's episodes.
by Mary Murphy and Mark Schwed
May 31, 2003
TV Guide (American edition)
"There were some decisions made about the election that didn't have much dramatic punch," says [John] Wells. "You knew Bartlet was coming back. And that story line coincided with a wave of successful reality-TV programming."
"The West Wing"
by Allison Hope Weiner
September 12, 2003
While Gordon was up there she asked Sorkin whose decision it was to cut the "Medea/Jackass" segment from the Bravo airing [and NBC rerun] of the episode. Sorkin acknowledged that Bravo reruns are going to be trimmed to make room for extra commercials.
Posted at televisionwithoutpity.com Forum
January 29, 2004
Notes from a second L.A. book signing with Aaron Sorkin
"It was a fun place to work. Who wouldn't want to come to work in a train station and a caboose?" she asked, referring to the caboose attached to the side of the library, which serves as the children's book section. The main library itself is housed in the town's former railroad station, built in 1871, and is on Station Street, next to a working railroad line owned by the Ohio Central Railroad.
The railroad theme played a prominent role when the library was turned back into a train station for the 2002 season premiere of the Emmy-award winning NBC drama "The West Wing."
[Elaine] Downing, who is a fan of the show, opened the library at 6 a.m. that day so the actors could prepare for the scenes to be shot on a special platform built outside the library.
A seven-car Ohio Central passenger train was leased by the show's producers and it stopped next to the platform, where the actors boarded the train and were filmed in additional scenes on the train as it rolled through Bridgeville.
"It was a highlight," she said for the library and for herself, who had a chance to meet "The West Wing" actors Richard Schiff, Janel Moloney and Bradley Whitford.
"Librarian to leave more than just a job"
by Bob Podurgiel
April 20, 2005
A freelance writer will no longer receive assignments from NBC Universal Sports after copying two passages from a 2002 episode of "The West Wing" in his script for a feature that preceded the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
Ken Schanzer, the president of NBC Universal Sports, confirmed that the plagiarism had occurred. He would not identify the writer but said, "He won't work here anymore."
The short feature, which was preceded by a commercial for the final two episodes of "The West Wing," looked at the difficulties faced by Barbaro's trainer, Michael Matz, who survived a plane crash in Sioux City, Iowa, then led three children to safety; Alex Solis, who broke his back in a track spill two years ago but rode Brother Derek on Saturday; and Brother Derek's trainer, Dan Hendricks, who was paralyzed in a motocross accident.
In the script, read by NBC's Tom Hammond, Matz was extolled because he "ran into the fire to save the lives of three children." Hammond paused dramatically and added, "Ran into the fire."
Martin Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlet, delivered a speech praising the rescuers who "ran into the fire to help get people out." He paused and added dramatically, "Ran into the fire."
The Derby script summed up the changed lives of Matz, Solis and Hendricks by saying that the "funny thing about life is that every time we think we've measured our capacity to meet its challenges, we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless."
In "The West Wing," Bartlet said, "The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we've measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless."
The similarities between the Derby feature script and the script for the episode of "The West Wing," written by Aaron Sorkin, were discovered by a reader who sent an e-mail message to The New York Times.
"NBC Admits Plagiarism in Feature Before Derby"
by Richard Sandomir
May 11, 2006
New York Times
She's still reeling from the cancellation of "West Wing," done in by ratings and star John Spencer's death. She was so impressed by the quality of the drama, she says, she approached the creators about writing her into the show. She eventually took over the role of the president's no-nonsense secretary.
"When the show came on, I was crestfallen that I wasn't in it," she says. "It was one of the few shows on the air that had anything to say. And it didn't hurt that it expressed a political view that I preferred to see expressed. So I immediately tried for a guest spot. I said I could be a lobbyist or something. I never expected to finally end up with a recurring role."
"Candor and comedy"
by Glenn Lovell
May, 30, 2006
San Jose Mercury News