Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Spoilers for "West Wing" Episode 21 and Inauguration

jessiela posted at Television Without Pity:
"I'm mutual (you know, friend of a friend) friends with the woman who's son played Huck on Sunday (adorable, right?) and she said that The Powers That Be have told her that they might need him again sometime soon. So, it's possible they're looking to do some pick up scenes with the kids for Toby's wrap-up."

Gordon Shumway
posted at Television Without Pity:
"Vinick apparently helps getting Republican approval for the replacement Vice Presidential candidate and Santos is grateful, then offering Vinick the Sec. of State position."

Spoilers for the second-to-last episode of "The West Wing" have been posted at the J/D Talk Yahoo Group, involving, C.J., Will, Kate, Toby and the make-up of next administration here and here.

Miss Hell (Thanks!) posted some spoilers on the Inauguration episode at Television Without Pity:
"I got to work about fifteen feet from Brad Whitford today, for many, many hours. His kids kept showing up and they were so cute it hurt. Physically hurt. Especially the youngest one who has Josh-eyes.

Janel Moloney looked gorgeous. They were sitting next to each other at the Inauguration. She had a little parasol that she used between takes to protect her alabaster skin. I really wish I'd had a parasol.

Off topic but worth relating... about 8 hours into the shoot (hot sun, no lunch, etc.) one of the extras on the back row fainted. Before the Assistant Director could even finish yelling for a medic, Martin Sheen was there shading her from the sun with an umbrella, with an expression of such sincere fatherly concern that I was actually moved to tears by the gesture. I have never seen anything like it.

No more West Wing shooting though, ever. I'm sad.
Okay, here I am. You want details? You get details. Sorry for the lack of Josh & Donna info and the plethora of other stuff, but I have no idea what information will be interesting to you guys, and this is the thread I check most, so I'll just dump it all here.

FYI, the previous post was the last thing I wrote after I went to bed after a 10 hour work day (not including the commute, which was over an hour both ways). This morning I feel like someone hit me with a truck, and I'll tell you why. I spent the entirety of the 10 hours either

a) Standing in the direct L.A. sun wearing an overcoat and gloves and heels
b) Sitting in the direct L.A. sun wearing an overcoat and gloves and heels
c) Standing in the L.A. shade (for 10-15 minutes, 4-5 times) wearing heels
d) Lugging a garment bag containing an overcoat, two suits, two pairs of heels, and two books across the ENTIRETY of the Warner Brothers lot on foot. For those who haven't seen the lot, next time you watch a WB movie, take notice of what the WB is floating over. Yeah, I walked from one end of that to the other.

Now, I'll start with some of the specific questions. I'm going to be spoiler bar happy so people just tuning in can enjoy this without having ANY surprises ruined. For that reason, I'm not going to even mention what scene was being shot. If you really hate spoilers, do NOT go back and read my OP or any of the comments on it. Thanks. :)

First of all, I'd like to start with an apology. I did unwittingly give away that Santos wins the election, but I was tired and didn't even think about it. But why else would Josh and Donna be there? I'm assuming they wouldn't go to watch Vinick inaugurated. *blush* So sorry about that.


What color was the parasol?

Janel Moloney, to protect her alabaster skin from the L.A. sun, was carrying a white parasol and using it between takes to shade herself. It looked exactly like the kind you get in a drink, only bigger. It had Asian-style flowers on it and completed her look of being some an ethereal fairy princess. I don't know if it was just the day, or if the camera has been cheating her, but she looked a hundred times better than I've seen her look on the show this season. She was absolutely gorgeous.

Uh, and speaking of gorgeous. Funny how you can see pictures of a person and not think anything... and then you see them in person and your heart slams against your ribs and your mouth goes dry. Funny how I was perfectly calm in the presence of Martin Sheen and Stockard Channing and Jimmy Smits and Teri Polo and any number of other people, but...

When I arrived at the Warner Brothers lot I put most of my stuff in one trailer and then hopped a shuttle to the set. When I got there, though, I realized I had brought the wrong shoes, so I had to find a nice man to drive me back to the first trailer. It took a few minutes so I sat and read my West Wing shooting script book (seasons 3 and 4) during the drive.

As the driver of the van was trying to pull into the proper street to drop me off, there was a car blocking him, and he said into his walkie talkie, "Ah, I have to go around the block, I'll be a minute." And the guy on his walkie talkie said, "Who's blocking you?" And my driver replies, "Aaron Sorkin." My head shot up from the book I was reading (you remember which book, right?), and sure enough, there was Aaron getting out of the car. "Holy God!" I blurted. I don't react well to surprise. I just stared, fishlike, from behind my tinted windows at the surprisingly gorgeous apparition of Sorkin about fifteen feet away from me as we turned. Yeah, I've seen his pictures, but um... no one bothered to tell me he was gorgeous. Okay, one person, but I didn't really believe her. I couldn't take my eyes off him until there was a building between us. There's something almost godlike about him. An angry and slightly insane god, perhaps, but definitely a god. Or at least a demigod.

When I pulled myself together, I realized how utterly unlikely this sighting was. I felt as though I had conjured him with the power of my mind, as he had absolutely nothing to do with why I was there. I asked the driver, "What's he doing here?" and he replied, "He's got a new show shooting."

Duh, of course. Okay. He's there for Studio 60.

Eventually I got my shoes and got back to the set, and we sat around shooting for a while. Then, all of a sudden, I felt sure I was hallucinating, because there was Aaron Sorkin again, across the set from me. I actually rubbed my eyes (we'd been sitting under hot sun
for a while, and my contacts were kind of drying out) and looked again. Still looked pretty Sorkiny to me. Right about then the director stopped everybody and said, "Hey, look, we have a special guest! The creator of the show, Aaron Sorkin!" Everyone applauded;
about half stood up. You can guess which half I was in. Aaron shook hands with a couple people, then sat down to get shot in the Inauguration scene. Unfortunately, in a place where he was out of my eyeline. As soon as I had a chance I looked for him again, but he was already gone - poof.

How many takes?

For each segment of the sequence they spent all day shooting, they would do between eight and ten takes. Usually about two for each camera angle, and only rarely because someone screwed up. For some reason though, the Inauguration Oath got messed up about four times. I couldn't hear what was happening, but everyone kept laughing until the crew told them to ssssshhhhhhhh!

Did know...hold hands?

Unfortunately, I was seated in front of Brad and Janel, which meant that every time the camera was on them, I had to turn my back to them and could not see what they were doing! I know you're all disappointed in me... *sigh* But I can say that there was obviously a lot of affection between them in RL - between takes they were always talking to each other, though I couldn't hear much of what they said. So as far as J/D stuff I remain sadly unspoiled!

Is Martin Sheen as absolutely wonderful as everybody says he is?

An unqualified yes. When one of the extras fainted, why was he the first one at her side? I actually got tears in my eyes when I saw his expression - it might as well have been his own daughter. I will never forget the sight of him holding that blue-and-white umbrella protectively between her and the brutal desert sun while we waited for the medics to arrive. He knelt down and was talking to her softly - I couldn't hear what he was saying, but I'm guessing he was making bad jokes. You want to know what Martin Sheen is like? Watch the West Wing. Martin Sheen is President Bartlet - a goofy old grandpa with a heart of gold who "can't resist a rope line." He'd rather hang out with extras and crew members than the rich and powerful. He is easily moved, and a giant softie.
My Day on the West Wing, part 2. Martin Sheen and why he rocks.

After one of our 15 minute breaks I came back to find that Mr. Sheen had gotten it in his head he wanted to play Assistant Director for a while. So they handed him the megaphone and he started yelling orders at the extras and crew, only about half of which were remotely serious. After the break was over it was time to shoot, but Brad Whitford wasn't back yet. So Martin Sheen yells, through the megaphone, "Is Brad still in the bathroom?" A few minutes later he lifted the megaphone to his mouth and said just as loudly, "So sorry folks, Brad's apparently still in the bathroom." When Brad [Whitford] finally showed up, everyone was snickering and he was Clueless Josh for a second. Then Teri Polo said, "You've got some toilet paper stuck to your shoe." He didn't, but he looked, and you could tell he thought she was serious, and was sort of good-naturedly embarrassed when he saw he'd been had.

Among the "orders" Martin gave the extras were that when we heard Hail to the Chief start playing, we were all to burst into dance. But he also seemed really interested in learning the actual stuff that the Assistant Director was supposed to do, and trying to do it properly. You could easily tell when he was kidding with us and when he was actually trying to be a good Assistant Director. For much of the rest of the shoot, Martin continued to shout "Rolling!" and so forth through the megaphone at the appropriate times, until it was time for him to actually, you know, act. Then he turned to us all and said, "I am now giving up my Assistant Director duties so that I can concentrate on my character. Thank you all." And people applauded him and he just waved us off like, oh please, guys, we're just having some fun together.

Is Bradley Whitford totally, completely, absolutely...

Yes. When he first came on set, he was talking on his cell phone, and grinning from ear to ear for some reason. Then finally he said, "Say that again, honey," and turned his phone on speaker, with the volume all the way up, and held it up over his head so everyone could hear his youngest daughter. I couldn't understand what she was saying, but she was soooooooooooo cute. So he kept making her say stuff to us for a while, grinning like a madman while about a hundred fifty people went, AWWWWWWWWWWW.

After one of the other breaks, his three kids came up onto the set with him and he was introducing them to a few people. The oldest girl and the boy were quiet and well behaved, and when he first came on he was carrying the littlest girl. One of the crew saw her, with her unbelievable resemblance to him (someone posted a picture of her earlier in this thread) and said, "Well if that's not a Whitford I don't know what is." Brad [Whitford] looked slightly indignant and said, "Well, they're all Whitfords!"

Basically the whole day he was being Dad. I could tell that as much as he loves his job, they are and always will be # 1 in his heart. If one of them had needed him he'd have walked off that set in a heartbeat. The gorgeous blonde lady I can only assume is his personal assistant was taking good care of them while he was working, it seems.

What were they wearing?

Oh man, I'm so sorry, I have horrible visual memory. The guys were in suits. Uhhhh. Yeah, suits. The only thing I noticed in particular was Janel [Moloney]'s dress. It was sleeveless, revealing her alabaster arms, and about knee length, chocolate brown in color, and had kind of ruffles around the bottom. Not lace, just kind of a scalloped edge, two layers. It sounds weird, but it looked amazing. Her hair was down. Oh and also, Mrs. Santos was wearing a sort of powder blue suit, and her hair was in a kind of bun. All guys' suits look the same to me, I'm sorry. :-(
Part 3 of my day on the West Wing - random stuff.

Things that made me cry:

1. Martin Sheen rushing to the side of the extra who fainted.

2. A gorgeous blues rendition of America the Beautiful.

3. The head of Warner Brothers stopping by to give a speech about how the West Wing had made him remember why he loved television, and how much he was going to miss it (this was the last day of shooting).

4. Being told, "background is wrapped." I.e., extras have to go home now. :-(

By the way, working background on the West Wing is not like working background other places, where they try their hardest to minimize contact between the "extras" and the "real talent." The crew, the principals, and I were all getting our food from the same place between takes, all using the same restrooms. It seems like such a terrible indignity for the actors, but they really don't seem to care. I guess they're used to it after this long. Re: restrooms, this is almost too embarrassing to mention, but for that reason I'm sure at least someone will find it interesting: at one point I shut the door to my bathroom stall just as Janel Moloney was coming out of the one next to me. As she was washing up I heard her saying something good-naturedly about how the sun was killing her, and one of the other extras assuring her that she looked beautiful. She said "thanks" in that sort of sad/tired sighing way that people do when they hear it all the time and are pretty sure it's b.s. I wanted to hug her. But um, I was peeing. :-/ By the time I came out of the stall she was gone. My whole day was like this - seeing Sorkin through tinted windows, listening to Janel Moloney through a bathroom stall. The gods love to tease me.

Another cute thing - the craft service (food) table had a constant supply of Red White & Blue popsicles. Whoever came up with that idea should get a raise, as it was not only cute and showed "West Wing spirit" but was just a wonderfully practical idea. Hot, sweaty, exhausted people made short work of them - getting a sugar rush and cooling down at the same time, but they always brought us out more. Also there were crew members circulating the crowd between takes offering the extras bottled water and sunscreen. If not for the amazing hard work of these people, more than one extra would have fainted during the 9-hour shoot. You have no idea what it's like to stand in summer weather in a heavy overcoat and gloves and a scarf under direct sunlight until you've tried it. My scalp is sunburned!

What else...

I guess that's about it. Hope this has been enlightening and/or entertaining for you.

Question - since you were sitting in front of J/D - could you overhear any of their dialogue? Anything at all?

They did not have any dialogue during the parts that were shot that day.
Ok, it's the inauguration that was filmed correct? But then it was in the desert heat with people in sleeveless dresses? Does Wells know that DC is freezing f'ing cold in January? Seriously, it can be warm in December and Feb, but January it's colder than Massachusetts. I understand if they did the "act cold" thing, but if Janel Moloney was in a sleeveless dress that's going to bother me. Plus how do you fake the Capitol?

During the shooting she wore a coat and other things over it. A nice coat, with no yellow anywhere - but I can't remember the color, sorry, as I only saw it briefly once. I do remember that the coat was the same length as her dress, about down to her knees, and had very nice elegant lines. I think she also had a scarf, not sure. I only saw the brown dress between takes.

As for the desert heat, that wasn't the crew's fault - they don't control the weather in L.A. However they did turn on a wind machine to make it look blustery. It also had the added benefit of cooling us off while the cameras were rolling. :) They also directed us to "act cold," so you'll see people blowing on their hands, etc. They're real pros.

Thank you for the Ivory Parasol... *snf* I'd like to thank the people of TWoP, without whom television would just be, well, television. And I'd like to thank Aaron Sorkin, for being hotter than the desert sun that pounded on my head for nine hours straight, and Janel Moloney for not making me scared to pee, and um, the popsicle guys, and... the TWoP people again. And in honor of Martin Sheen, I will use this parasol only for good - I will use it to shade the unfortunates who, unnoticed and neglected by all others, steadfastly work themselves into unconsciousness.

As for what I was wearing - tan coat, chin-length blonde hair, alabaster skin, red leather gloves. You're not likely to see me though, as I was in an out-of-the-way spot.

You can see a blurry half second worth of me in season three's "The Black Vera Wang" right before Sam gets out of his car in the rain. I pass very close to the camera next to a tall black woman - we both have coffee cups and umbrellas. My hair was dyed brown at the time, and longer."

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