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Commencement

Original Airdate 05-07-03 Rerun 09-10-03


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Descriptions  |  Credits  |  Information Links  |  Awards  |  Media Quotes

Descriptions

From TVGuide.com:
On the eve of Zoey's Commencement, Bartlet fills in the staff on his role in a covert killing after five alleged terrorists go missing, pushing C.J. into a deal with Danny to keep the truth buried. Meanwhile, a new Secret Service agent (Taye Diggs ) is assigned to protect the graduate, who clears the air with Charlie before pulling her own unsettling vanishing act; and Andy breaks bad news to a hopeful Toby minutes before her water breaks.
From NBC:
With the country at a heightened state of alert because suspected terrorists have disappeared, the President (Martin Sheen) wrestles with what message to give his youngest daughter Zoey's (Elisabeth Moss) graduating class at Georgetown. As C.J. (Allison Janney) has to stop Danny (Timothy Busfield) from filing a story, Charlie (Dulé Hill) decides whether to follow through a romantic promise he made to Zoey when they were dating.
From Warner Bros.:
The U.S. is in a heightened state of alert because suspected terrorists have gone missing. Meanwhile, Bartlet struggles with the message that he wants to convey to his youngest daughter, Zoey's (Elisabeth Moss), graduating class at Georgetown University. C.J. must stop reporter Danny Concanon (Timothy Busfield) from filing a story. And Charlie decides whether or not to keep a romantic promise he made to Zoey when they were dating. Taye Diggs appears as the new head of Zoey's Secret Service detail.
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Credits

Stockard Channing 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
Joshua Malina as Will (William) Bailey Deputy Communications Director
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
and
Martin Sheen as
Jed (Josiah Edward) Bartlet President of the United States
     
Special Guest Star
Mary-Louise Parker as
Amy (Amelia) Gardner FLOTUS' Chief of Staff
Timothy Busfield as Danny (Daniel) Concannon Washington Post Reporter
with
John Amos as
Admiral Percy "Fitz" Fitzwallace Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
and
Taye Diggs as
Wesley "Wes" Davis Head of Zoey's Secret Service detail
Guest Starring    
Anna Deavere Smith as Dr. Nancy McNally National Security Advisor
Kathleen York as Rep. Andy (Andrea) Wyatt Congresswoman
Elisabeth Moss as Zoey Patricia Bartlet Bartlets' youngest daughter
Michael O'Neill as Ron Butterfield Head of POTUS' Secret Service detail
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Ayre Gross as Dr. Glazer Andy's Doctor (name from script)
Trent Ford as Jean Paul FULL NAME Zoey's Boyfriend
     
Co-Starring    
Kimberly Bigsby as Molly O'Connor (last name)
John Antonini as Jamie Reed (last name)
Shannon Marshall as Randy Weathers (last name)
Cliff McMullen as Chancellor of Georgetown
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Ralph Meyering Jr. as Civilian Tom
Keith MacKechnie as Cooper Secret Service Agent
Jennifer Ann Massey as Waitress  
Tricia Maio as Aide  
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Information Links

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Awards

Emmy Awards

Submitted for consideration for Outstanding Drama Series Win
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Media Quotes

In the episode "Commencement," Diggs heads a team of Secret Service agents designated to watch over Zoey at her college graduation and subsequent summer trip to France.

"TAYE DIGGS ('CHICAGO') GOES TO WASHINGTON ..."
April 10, 2003
nbcmv.com

A considerable number of Georgetown students have watched "The West Wing" since its first season in 1999, but many can now say that they have been on the show. This past weekend, the cast and production crew of the hit television show journeyed from their Warner Brothers Studios in Los Angeles, Calif. to film a graduation sequence complete with student extras in front of Healy Hall. The episode, scheduled to air on May 7, celebrates the Commencement of "The West Wing" president Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen)'s daughter, Zoey (Elizabeth Moss), who had been a student in the College on the series.

In preparation for the filming, a mock graduation stage was set up in front of Healy along with banners, decorations and seating arrangements. The crew of "West Wing" began constructing this set on Thursday when the Georgetown banners were first hung. The building of the stage was done primarily on Saturday and the decoration of the stage was all done in the early hours of Sunday morning before filming.

"The shooting couldn't have gone better," Lou Wells, producer of "The West Wing" said. "From the president down, everyone opened up to us."

The show also needed to find a number of student extras. On a politically active campus, the Lecture Fund, which conducted a lottery for students hoping to be extras, had no problem-finding students willing to sit in the sun for the eight-hour filming process. "We loved having the student extras who were so incredibly enthusiastic to help out with the scenes," Wells said.

Most of the extras involved were serious "West Wing" fans, thrilled that the show chose the Georgetown campus for this event rather than a studio in California. "I've always enjoyed the show and it's extremely rare to get the chance to be an extra." Jonathan Evans (SFS '06) said. "The most surprising thing was how long it took to shoot one scene, because they did several runs of the scene, and then they would move the cameras and film the same scene several more times," Laura Dziorny (COL '06) said. "In all, it took us almost six hours to film a scene that will probably only comprise about one minute of the show."

...

The casting of the professors was not done by the university, but rather by the casting companies that put together the show's production.

Once the student extras took the stage of Healy lawn in full cap and gown, the "talent" -- from Sheen to the cast members playing everyone including the university president, Georgetown professors and even on-lookers at the graduation ceremony -- took their places.

The scene, which the cast rehearsed countless times over the nine hour shooting time, consisted of Bartlet entering the stage with the actor playing Georgetown's fictional president while the students and seated professors clapped. After the announcer read, "Ladies and gentleman, the President of the United States Josiah Bartlet, accompanied by the president of Georgetown University," the extras were to pantomime clap while Sheen and the university president waved and motioned to the crowd.

The Office of Public Affairs was approached several weeks ago by representatives of the show and asked to film a Commencement scene on-campus. In coordination with the Office of Public Affairs, the producers of the "The West Wing" came out for a number of site reviews. After successful site reviews, the team began conversations planning the many logistics of the production shoot.

...

The Washington, D.C. crew of "The West Wing" has been filming on location since last Friday. The crew filmed in Alexandria, on the Georgetown University campus, K Street and will conclude the filming on 17th street near the American Revolution building. The unit is filming for the May 7 broadcast ... .

Although the plot is kept secret until the show is aired, Wells did release that the show, aside from Commencement at Georgetown University, will show what happens when the government has to shift into a different gear because someone very close to the president has been taken away.

"'West Wing' Graduates at Georgetown"
by Justin Dickerson
April 29, 2003
Hoya

[John] Wells: ... We have had ups and downs on the show in the past and we've always tried to encourage Aaron to stay, and because he writes so many of them, he has always expressed the sense that he was starting to run out of steam. I don't think you'll feel he ran out of any steam when you watch the end of this season. But I certainly have some sympathy for him. He's now written 88 episodes. I mean, I've written a lot of ERs, but over nine years, I've written 30. (Laughing) I don't have the ability to attempt what he has done over the last few years.

"West Wing Creator Quits! What Now?"
by Michael Ausiello
May 2, 2003
TV Guide Online

Actually, [Elisabeth] Moss admits, she hasn't yet seen the episode in which, high on Ecstasy [GHB, actually], Zoey is snatched from a nightclub. The night it aired last month, she was shooting a movie in New Mexico and now, she explains, all her time is consumed with the play she's rehearsing at the Geffen Playhouse.

"From Zoey to Franny"
by Barbara Isenberg
June 15, 2003
Los Angeles Times

"Part of the notion between the vice president resigning and the president's daughter being kidnapped," [John] Wells said, "was to find some way to strike at the core of the national sense of security in some way that would mirror what happened in the real world, yet not be in any way demeaning to the real events that are happening."

"West Wingers still proud of what they do"
by Tom Jicha
January 28, 2004
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

I was the next person called upon and my question went something like this: "I'm interested in discussing the process of how something goes from the written page to the television screen. For an example, I'd like to use the end of 'Commencement' which has the cutting back and forth between various storylines, with the music from the nightclub overlaid onto all the scenes, and the tension continues to build as we move from story to story and we have the flash cuts of Zoey. How much of that is on paper and how much is decided post-production?" Sorkin started out by saying that since "Commencement" is included in the script book, I'd get to see what was written and what ended up on screen. But he also said that didn't tell the whole story. He said he wrote the 4th Act of "Commencement" as four difference cuts. Alex Graves (who directed the episode) came back to him and told him that he was thinking it would work better as nine cuts and would Sorkin mind rewriting it? So Sorkin goes back and cuts scenes in half, moves things around a little and ends up with nine cuts. In the meantime, the music people are looking for a piece of music that will work for the scene. They know it's going to be source music (music that is coming from a source in the scene [i.e., the club Zoey and Frenchy [Jean Paul] were at]) so they needed something that would most likely be played at such a club. It gets put together and then Sorkin reviews it and tweaks whatever he doesn't like until we get the scene we saw on our television screen.

Posted at televisionwithoutpity.com Forum
by mjforty
January 29, 2004
Notes from a second L.A. book signing with Aaron Sorkin

And now I'm thinking that the "new" Leo makes a lot more sense than the old one, who'd had his edges softened over the years in ways that sometimes strained credulity.

"You're not the only person who's said this," Spencer said recently when I asked about the pricklier Leo during a "West Wing" press session in Hollywood. A visitor to the set had told Spencer, " 'Leo's gotten so mean,' " he said.

"And you know, mean and nice and all of that is in the eye of the beholder. But I think you have to look to Qumar" and the plot line last season in which Leo helped talk President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) into assassinating a leader of that fictional Middle Eastern country.

"Things were not easy in the White House at the beginning of this season. I mean, fictionally," he said. "And a lot of it fell on Leo's head, an unhappy staff, a president that was miserable and had lost his daughter, and a first lady who could no longer communicate with me and said that she didn't want me in the house any longer. So Leo's been going through a lot of stuff."

"It's good to have irascible Leo back"
by Ellen Gray
February 11, 2004
Philadelphia Daily News

"Hey, Danny buried stories about assassinations for C.J.," muses Busfield, whose brother-in-law, Joshua Malina, is also on "The West Wing." "He'd have done anything if she'd slept with him just once. It's all in the writing, except maybe for that element between an actor and another actor. I hate to use the word 'chemistry' because it gets so overused, and everyone tries to target what it is. When Allison and I worked together and we'd see each other, we'd just start to laugh. It was like, 'Let's play' every single time."

"Busfield Keeps Busy Behind the Scenes"
by Jay Bobbin
November 14, 2004
zap2it.com

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For more information about this episode:
Continuity Guide to "The West Wing"
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