Saturday, November 12, 2005

Alex Graves To Speak in Kansas

Alex Graves, regular "West Wing" director and writer of last week's episode, will be speaking at the Dole Institute in Kansas on November 10. You are welcome to post reports of the event at Television Without Pity or send them to me by e-mail to be posted.

One attendee at this event posted his impression on his blog:
"Tonight, there was an event on campus that featured Alex Graves, whose current title is producer on The West Wing. Now, I am a huge West Wing fan. I'm a liberal, and a political junkie, and I love good writing, so West Wing hits all of my buttons. Graves, as it happens, graduated from USC's film school but started his higher education at my current institution. Tonight's talk was about making the show and how the politics play in and how much every in the audience loves the show. What was very nice about the presentation was the montage he brought along of a few clips from the last season followed by a series of outtakes from the tapings. These are outtakes that probably will never make it onto a DVD, but they were unbelievably funny, and I appreciated him bringing them. It was like a gift for those of us who love the show and could be at the event. It's silly but I did thoroughly enjoy myself. Then I came home and continued watching the first season of the show while I wrote a very short paper on a political advertisement. I am a big geek.
Later in answer to a question, he posted in the comments:
"There are two outtakes that really stand out. One was from "Gone Quiet" as Allison janney is dancing to I'm Too Sexy. basically, she just started dancing in her office and takes it to a mock striptease, taking off her jacket and swinging it around before unbuttoning a button on her blouse and showing her shoulders. The crew is laughing in the background the entire time. It would be hard for me to give it justice without visuals.

The second standout was a scene in which Martin Sheen, Kristin Chenoweth, Dule Hill, and others ware walking in a doorway and down a hall. As they get in the door, Stayin Alive starts playing, and they all keep moving down the hall but dancing while they go. Watching Martin Sheen start strutting in a 3-piece suit while Dule Hill is really getting into it behind him made my wife cry.

None of the others really stood out, except to say that Brad Whitford was in quite a few of them and usually the one who messed up the take. :)"

Another report from Livejournal:
"Graves confirmed that (highlight)Toby is the leak. He wasn't covering for anybody, he did it because he didn't want astronauts to die.
...season 7 will include both versions of the live episode and a documentary about it.

Random Series Trivia
  • The debate was completely scripted, cut for cut. There really wasn't much room for improvisation at all.

  • If you noticed Jimmy Smits lookin from side to side a lot during the debate this is why:
    • "Jimmy looks from side to side because he's try not kill himself...sometimes when we're filming he’ll go beat his head against the wall because he thinks [his performance] is so bad." *said in a light-hearted joking manner, so I don't think we all need to be uber-concerned for Jimmy's welfare over here* Apparently he's one of those people who is his own worst critic.

  • When the war in Afghanistan started, the most popular item in the Afghani black market was season three of The West Wing on DVD
  • Season six basically happened because everybody was getting bored. All of a sudden John Wells was like, "hey! What if Leo had a heart attack and CJ was Chief of Staff! What if this! What if that!" Everybody got energized again, but then "the big complication became 'y'know, we're going to have create a republican...'"
  • but they did okay, because after all there are republicans who produce the show, write the show, and light the show (is *that* why it's been so dark in White House!).

  • NBC wanted to re-air Isaac and Ishmael on the 1 year anniversary of 9/11. Aaron Sorkin didn't think it was appropriate (he saw the episode as one that you show once and then lock away never to be seen again) and eventually told them if they re-aired it he would never write another episode.

Blooper Reel
Alex Graves brought us bloopers! I wish I could transcribe them all word for word for you guys, but sadly I can only offer descriptions with a little bit of transcription for some of them (there were a lot).
  • In The Two Bartlets when CJ and Toby are talking about whether Bartlet will be The Professor or Uncle Fluffy, Richard Schiff apparently finds "Uncle Fluffy" to be two of the funniest words ever when used in connection with Martin Sheen, because he laughed and giggled through, like, 3 takes.

  • Allison Janney does a little dance for the crew to "I'm Too Sexy"

  • Josh goes leaping like a gazelle through the communications bullpen

  • I have no idea what this episode is from, but it's Leo talking to Josh about somebody and it goes like this:
    • "LEO: He's Russell's Prime...[long pause]...Yes. He's Russell's Prime Minister. They moved to England, married Princess Di..." JOSH:He'd be, like, the first Hispanic Prime Minister, wouldn't he?" LEO: Yes.

  • Again with the not knowing the episode, but it's Josh and Leo. Also, this one is not verbatim, but it's close.
    • LEO:*says something* JOSH:*starts to say something but...*"I can't act. I'm sorry." LEO: Wow. Nice job. JOSH: I just...can't act. LEO: Too bad it wasn't the right line, because it was a great reading..."
  • Again with the not verbatim:
    • Charlie says something and laughs. POTUS: It's okay, I can keep a straight face [busts out laughing] but not for long!
  • From the "Nobody saw this coming?" department (don't know the episode, but this blooper got the most laughter from the crowd).
    • JOSH: *about attempts to fix some problem* That's like sticking a pinkie in a dike!...Dike?! [prances around all sing-songy] Pinkie in a dike! Pinkie in a dike!
  • During one of those moments when the staff is being led by the president in a power-walk through the corridor..."Stayin' Alive!" starts playing. Martin Sheen stops in his tracks, looks to the right, turns back to the camera and the whole cast struts and dances their way out of the scene.

Final Note: Alex Graves said the show still gets a lot of criticism for being too fast."

If you have any other reports you can post them in the comments or at Television Without Pity as linked above.

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