Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Reports from Bradley Whitford's American University Talk

Interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer:
"On the stump? Will The West Wing's Bradley Whitford campaign again for Ed Rendell in Pennsylvania?

"In the governor's race or for president?" Whitford says with a laugh in a recent interview in L.A. "I would actively support him, if asked. I think he's been a good governor."

Whitford, 46, who plays Josh Lynam, White House adviser turned campaign manager, was raised in Wayne and attended the Haverford School. He did a 30-second spot for Rendell in the '02 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Whitford has "tremendously mixed feelings" about West Wing's ending its run after seven seasons.

"It's a miracle to me that this show has been accepted commercially at all, let alone for what I think has been a pretty full run. There's not a lot of shows that last seven years."

On the other hand, "I think there should be a place for a show like this," he says. West Wing "made a lot of people a lot of money, and we never had a good lead-in. Ever. Never. Ever."

By sheer coincidence, Fox's Malcolm in the Middle, starring Whitford's wife, Jane Kaczmarek, also goes away after this season.

Whitford, a noted wordsmith, labels it "a bizarre confluence of extraordinary good luck."

With West Wing winding down, the big question is whether Josh and his assistant, Donna Moss (Janel Moloney), will finally consummate their seven-year flirtation.

"I'm ready," he says. "All that foreplay - there's a word for that if you're a man. I imagine it would be horribly inconclusive if they didn't hook up."

Adds Moloney: "The fans won't be disappointed.""

Interview with Bradley Whitford from the Pasadena Weekly. No Spoilers!

Interview with Bradley Whitford from the GW Hatchet, student newspaper for George Washington University. (No Spoilers!)

Various audience members of the talk have reported on the speech online.

Lizabeth posted at Television Without Pity
- in the "Spoiler Thread"
"Basically tonight at Bradley Whitford's talk at American he confirmed that there were two scenes that I'm really glad will actually be shown on TV rather than being glossed over.

1) He said (in response to someone's question about Leo) that they had filmed a funeral, loosely quoted, "I was a pallbearer at John's funeral, and then one at Leo's funeral." He also said something about a hospital scene when finding out about Leo.

2) In response to the Josh and Donna question, instead of saying something flat out he told a story of how he got home from work and called his mom. She asked how his day was and he said, "I spent the day naked in bed with a beautiful woman." Then he winked at the crowd. So yay! Sex/bed scene."
- in the media thread
"He talked mainly about celebrities talking about politics and their beliefs. The best part was when he said something along the lines of, "When I see Ben Affleck pontificating about the trade deficit on the red carpet I think, 'Shut up you meat puppet and entertain me!'"

He then talked about his views on politics. Not without calling himself a meat puppet. His views about politicians being that they are becoming too show-biz like. That politicians, such as the current leader of the free world, are successful when they are on television (bad politicians are bad because they are bad on television), wearing makeup, with a sign that insults our intelligence behind them, reading a speech they didn't write. He was quick to point out, "Actor boy here, wrote this speech." At first I had really thought he hadn't because he didn't seem to know it, but then I realized he was probably had just done it because he was doing what I do when I give speeches with jokes in them which is laugh before when I know the jokes are coming.

My favorite joke, "I'm 46, my hairline is 2."

He then shared some stories about meeting real politicians including Former POTUS Clinton. His longer story about Clinton who he said was this smart man with a redneck, alcoholic family past who just wanted everyone to like him. Personally, truer words to me have never been spoken. His impression included what is best described as a "humping" motion of the podium saying, "I've got to have you." For the rest of my life I will choose to believe BW was saying that to me. I digress (which he also said often, and I say often, again digressing). The Clinton story was about being at a Georgetown restaurant with Clinton and Janel for about 3 hours because Clinton apparently talks a lot, and when they left he was shaking Clinton's hand when they heard a muffled noise from far away (the road being blocked mostly by secret service). They kept hearing it and Clinton was shaking his hand, probably two handed style and kept asking Brad what was being yelled. Clinton touched his hearing aide, "He has a hearing aide," and kept asking Brad but Brad didn't hear it until the third or fourth time. When he did hear it the guy, now being wrestled by secret service, was yelling, "MONICA!" Clinton, still holding Brad's hand, asked again and Brad said, "He's yelling Attica!"

Clinton then gave him a look and said, "Oh yeah, sure, Attica."

Brad also talked about some op-ed he wrote about the IRS investigating his church after his minister had said something about the upcoming elections. Basically talking about his separate the church from state views. He also talked in the early parts about being raised Quaker which I hadn’t known.

He finished up with some democracy is you talk and a nice Nelson Mandela quote.

Q and A followed (The interesting questions are spoilers so I posted them there).

One girl asked for a lock of his hair. He obliged. On his knees. Secretly I wanted to be that girl.

He said he was still in talks for the Aaron Sorkin show.

He also talked about how he loves the Daily Show.

I forgot some things, so hopefully someone else who went can fill in the gaps… It was definitely worth the $7 and getting lost in the nice section of DC.

ETA He also said he never has watched Billy Madison. He wouldn't suggest bleaching your hair and doing an Adam Sandler movie. It was the sad point of the evening to know that Eric embarassed him :(
He just pointed out he was raised Quaker at least twice. It wasn't very indepth, it just seemed like it was an important part of his background.

He also impersonated John Spencer which I forgot to mention. With gravely voice and walk.
Someone asked [about "Studio 60"], because I guess imdb had something about it, and he seemed too shocked that anyone would kind of know about it. Then he played it off like, "Oh yeah, they're very serious talks." Being sarcastic, but not in a way that wrote off doing the show.
He had some other good jokes that I'm remembering.

When talking about celebrities and politicians wearing makeup, he said somthing along the lines of, "My grandfather spent his life clearing land. I wear makeup for a living."

He also did an Arnold impersonation when prompted."

plunker posted at Television Without Pity:
"He said that John was an "actor's actor", that he was great to work with, always came with his lines memorized and such. The cast used to tease him about his walk, which Brad demonstrated for everyone.

He also said one of the very weird things was being a pall bearer at John's funeral and then again as Josh at Leo's.
He didn't comment any further on [Studio 60] other than confirm the IMDB report that said he was in talks.

Re: Josh & Donna

"As opposed to real life, in television there's nothing more boring than consumation"...I think that's almost exactly the quote."

Stacy posted at the Josh/Donna Talk Group:
"I got back about 40 min ago from seeing Bradley Whitford. He was
funny and talked about a broad range of topics from our environment
and political debate to John Spencer and Josh and Donna. Because I
really need to go to bed, I'll just post a few things that happened
then post more about it tomorrow.

One person asked about John Spencer and the type of person he was.
Bradley said he was "like a brother." He was talking about him then
let out a light laugh and began to talk was a raspy voice like John
Spencer, saying he talked like a motor boat. He then walked around a
little on stage like John with his knees bent in an odd way. Very
cute. (spoiler coming) He also talked about how it was weird going
to John's funeral then going to work and having to do a scene of
Leo's death.

And what everyone has been waiting for:
A young man asked about what will happen to Josh and Donna and if
they do not get together, there will be many angry fans sending
letters (or something like that). Bradley laughed and said he was
talking with his mother about his work one night and said he spent
the whole day naked in bed with a naked women!! I was so busy
writing this down (I really did take notes!) that I think I missed a
gesture or something because the audience laughed.

In a later post:
"The "show" started late and the audience was very excited. When he finally came out, he had a little spring in his step and waved to everyone before taking a seat on stage. My mom thought he looked shorter, but from across the room, I'm not really sure how tall he was. The first thing I noticed was his hair (I don't know why...). He was dressed I think in a gray suite and maybe a maroon tie. A lady introduced him by giving a history of his education. When she said he studied at Julliard, he nodded his head or did something to show he was prestigious.

When the introduction was over, Bradley [Whitford] went to the podium and gave a speech about many things such as how our environment and world is not as safe as it was when he was growing up. He talked about how politicians' appearance on TV is a huge factor today and how polls ask if someone looks presidential. He also said how debates today are not as important and extensive as they use to be. Bradley [Whitford] said something like liberal is now used as a curse word. He talked about how has met Clinton and Gore and may have mentioned John Kerry. Bradley would talk like Clinton and told stories about meeting him, ....... He said that Clinton sat between him andJanel [Moloney], and it was at this point when it really hit me that this was Bradley Whitford and is on "The West Wing". He ended his speech by giving advice on acting, but his message could be implied to everything. I googled him a week ago and came across a commencement speech he gave to the University of Wisconsin in 2004 (http://www.news.wisc.edu/9829.html -transcript, hopefully the link works). Bradley [Whitford] gave us, I believe, the same exact ending to that speech, about the six ways to succeed. He even used a lot of the same jokes such as "Let's just take a moment to hope that Nelson Mandela and Adam Sandler never again share a paragraph." He even ended AU's speech the same way as Wisconsin's, "Go out and plant some trees!"

After his speech, there was a Q&A. He started from the left side of the room as a joke. The first person to ask a question was a lady. I completely forgot her question, but I do remember asking him if she could have a lock of his hair or touch it. He answered her question then told her "to come here." Bradley [Whitford] got on his keens and she rubbed his hair and then he patted her hair. He said something like Jane is going to wonder how I got brown hair on my clothes.

Another person asked about John Spencer. He said that John was an actor's actor and came to work prepared and line memorized. Bradley [Whitford] briefly paused at one point and let out a light laugh then began to talk like John saying in John's tone that he sounded like a motor boat. Then, Bradley [Whitford] began to walk around the stage like John, almost like a duck, with his knees bent and waddled. He said John's legs looked like they were pole vaults about to snap and many people have immitated his walk.

Someone else asked if Bradley [Whitford] is in talks to appear in Aaron Sorkin's new TV series. Bradley hesistadly said yes, but would not give any more detail.

Soon after this, the ... guy... asked about Josh and Donna and all the angry letters the series will get if they did not get together. Bradley laughed and began to talk about the concemmation on TV is boring and, of course, that he told his mother that he spent a day naked in bed with a naked women (YAY!).

Another guy asked about the governor of Califorina, Arnold Schwarzenegger.... Bradley [Whitford] said talked about how he made a living lifting weights and talked with Arnold's accent. I'm not exactly sure what he said about Arnold being

A student asked about how the show educates or something like that and mentioned "Isaac and Ishmael." Bradley [Whitford] said he thought the episode was good for Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme (he joked about Tommy's name and how it sounded funny) because it gave them a chance to step outside of the show. He also mentioned how many lobbyists like how the show brings popularity to some issues and how that was never the intent of the show.

Some other notes: Whenever Bradley [Whitford] said Julliard, he said it in a snobby tone. He loves the "Daily Show." He told an actress that the business it horrible, then followed this with a cheery, "have fun!".

Diana posted at the Josh/Donna Talk Group:
"Long, long, long time lurker and very first time poster (which is
surprisingly nerve-racking). I guess it's now or never.... I
attended Bradley Whitford's lecture tonight in DC (and LOVED it, of
course). He spoke for a while and then answered questions. He spoke
about so many different things,and I'm sure you can get a great
account from those who took notes
One brave guy asked THE question: Will there be resolution for Josh
and Donna? The guy also threatened a massive letter-writing campaign
if we were left unsatisfied, which made me laugh (thinking of this
list's current campaign with Ellen and The View).

Bradley's answer: First he recited the whole song and dance about
how boring consummation is on tv (as opposed to real life!). Then he
told us about visiting his 91 year old mother recently after a day
of shooting. She asked him how work was, he told her it was the best
day ever because he had spent the whole day completely naked in bed
with a completely naked woman! He said "I won't tell you who" and
then stood there with this adorable grin!!!"

Incigul posted at the Josh/Donna Discussion Group:
"Ok, so I went last night and Brad [Whitford] could not have been cuter. He spoke a lot
about politics, about the perils of our media-oriented culture in choosing a President. He told a very funny story about having dinner with Bill Clinton and how the former President sat between him and Janel [Moloney] and put his arms around them. He seemed to think that Clinton has an insatiable need to be loved because he comes from an "white trash, alcoholic" family. At this point, he wondered out loud whether he was going to get into trouble for saying that. He also called Ben Afflack a "meat puppet" (in a reference to the sometime audacity of
celebrities who spout off about world affairs -- it was also a dig at himself). He spoke disparagingly about the Adam Sandler movie he did and how he's never seen it and how it made him want to get another job. He gave some advice to budding young actors, including the idea of loving the process (love acting more than you want to be an actor; love writing more than you
want to be a writer).

Then, as has already been reported, this adorable little college guy asked fervently about Josh and Donna, saying that he's been watching the show for 7 years waiting for them to get together. The whole audience cheered. At first Brad said, "the problem with that is, unlike in real life, in television there is nothing more boring than consummation." There were some boo's and he
responded, "you're booing consummation?" Then he went on about telling his mother about being completely naked all day with a beautiful naked woman. He looked down and said in a lower tone, "I won't tell you who it was," and then he must have had a look on his face or something because the whole audience cheered again, as though they knew that it was Janel. But
I missed the look, so another
one of our listers who attended has to help me out."

Cincyjess posted at Television Without Pity:
"I go to American University and was at the event last night. It was such perfect timing (then I came back and found the even BETTER news) because I was all set to be in a bad mood today, but I'm still glowing from last night...my roommate would attest to that, as I sit here helping her get ready for her date with her boyfriend of 2 years.

Anyway, "I digress..." (right Lizabeth?). Hopefully I can give a second perspective/support on some of the things inferred from last night's talk.

I agree with Lizabeth that he wasn't embellishing or trying to get a rise out of the audience. I think we're both taking into consideration the general energy between Brad and the (relatively small--maybe 250) audience during the whole thing. He was very open, honest, and respectful all night (not counting the adolescent jabs at the Right and other frequent great one-liners of that nature...), and I know he sensed how hardcore we were by our responses (clapping, occasional playful hooting) to some of the things he said about the show. Further, it was obvious that we came to actually hear him speak about the important issues rather than just to be in the presence of a celebrity who could give us some good gossip, so I think when he told us the anecdote (more on that later) it was his sincere, although a bit 'blue' (like Ben Affleck, right Lizabeth?), way of giving back to us after being a mature, engaged audience.

Now in regard to how the actual question went, the person who asked it--a guy--stated it not in a "when the hell are Josh and Donna gonna get together!" kind of way, but more like "I know a lot of people agree that we've been waiting since the first season to see some sort of growth in the Josh/Donna relationship, so can you tell us if there will be some resolution?" ...and then he playfully said something like "because if not I can guarantee there will be a letter writing campaign to bring it back for another season just so we can see that resolved!"

Obviously I didn't get it word for word, but I remember the gist of the question (I, like every other Josh/Donna shipper in the room, was paying very close attention...), and I think it was asked in a gracious enough way that he would want to give us something big and juicy to go on. haha

So first he just stood with this little smirk on his face kind of collecting his thoughts and he said something along the lines of "See, the problem with resolving relationships onscreen is that nothing is more boring than consummation." there were a handful of boos from the audience and he sort of turned his head and said "Are you booing consummation?!" with that kind of evil/charming dimpled smirk that we're so fond of. Lots of laughing ensues, then he got 'serious' and said something like "I won't answer your question outright, but I'll tell you a story. I was coming home from work one day recently and I stopped at my 91-year-old mom's house on the way. She asked me how my day was and I said 'It was great. I spent all day naked in a bed with a beautiful naked woman!' I won't tell you who it was though..." Another big charming smile and the wink. Now I'm sure they weren't completely naked, but the implications of the scene in question is the major news, right?!

So I'm pretty confident we're gonna get to see onscreen a half-naked Josh (and Donna) before the end."

Lizabeth posted in response:
"I completely agree cincyjess that it was good natured and that he wasn't messing with us. And if he was I'll help with the letter writing campaign...

"the person who asked it--a guy--"

I just laughed so hard at this because it was exactly what I was thinking. The first girl, "Which way should I go? Um I guess to the left," I thought would ask when asking for a piece of his hair."

Responding post from Cincyjess:
'"I just laughed so hard at this because it was exactly what I was thinking. The first girl, "Which way should I go? Um I guess to the left," I thought would ask when asking for a piece of his hair."'

Haha, that was such a funny moment. His comedic timing is so perfect, and the cute little faces he kept making were positively lethal. I don't know if you'd seen/heard him before, but I hadn't and I was so shocked at how much his personality/conversational style/whit is just like Josh's. There are a lot of characters on tv that are convincing but you know the actors are nothing like their characters, but he's just...Josh. Bradley Whitford = Josh Lyman. I think I may be a little more in love with Brad than I am with Josh now, which is kinda hard to believe! And he was so good natured about the "Can I run my hands through your hair" question. I'm still a little embarrassed that someone asked that, but now that I know how it turned out for her, I'm completely jealous...."Jane's gonna ask 'what's that long brown hair on your head, honey?'". Okay, I'm seriously getting off topic with my rambling."

From the Washington Post:
"Actor Bradley Whitford gave all those heavy-breathing "West Wing" fanatics still out there (or rather here -- they do all live here, don't they?) a tantalizing bit of final-season spoiler in his Monday night speech before several hundred folks at American University.

Whitford, who plays White House aide-turned-campaign-manager Josh Lyman, let on that in taping an upcoming episode, "I did spend the day naked in bed with a woman." This got all the long-denied Josh-and-Donna proponents revved up -- though when asked specifically about Janel Moloney 's character, Whitford declared that "if we consummate, that's the most boring thing on TV."

Most of Whitford's talk concerned the melding of media, politics and showbiz. But he also warned his audience not to heed what any thespian "meat puppet" like him or Ben Affleck has to say."

Short clip from the talk of Bradley Whitfords SPOILER comment.

Report at Dianora's Livejournal with photos.
Report at BBennett's Livejournal.
Report from pennylane's Livejournal.
At londonphoenix's livejournal, short clip of Bradley Whitford saying hello to a fan who could not come.
Report from Bulworth's blog.
Report from RandomRanter's blog.
Short comment from obiwankatie's livejournal.
Comment from Spin Lola Spin's blog.
Photos by Clgregor here , here and here .
Comment from Jesso Hackberry's blog.
Short comment from Novelworm's Livejournal.
Report from ahimsa114's livejournal.
Comment from happyotterdog's journal.
You can discuss any spoilers here.

Any further reports from the talk are welcomed here, here or by e-mail at this blog.

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