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A Proportional Response

Original Airdate 10-06-99 Rerun 01-19-00 and 07-18-01

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Bartlet (Martin Sheen) wants an unexpected response to a plane being shot down; Josh believes that a job applicant (Dulé Hill) might be just right to be the President's aide; Cregg talks to a reporter (Timothy Busfield), who's heard about Sam's friendship with a call girl.
From NBC:
Still seething over the downing of an fully loaded American jet in the Mideast, a vengeful President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) overrules the joint chiefs' plan for a "proportional" military strike and demands a more severe attack that would result in thousands of enemy and civilian casualties. While Leo (John Spencer) and other advisers try to cool off the Commander-in-Chief, Press Secretary C.J. (Allison Janney) scolds a wayward Sam (Rob Lowe) over his potentially explosive private crusade to rescue a well-known call girl from her profession. Feeling overlooked during the hubbub surrounding the military options, Josh (Bradley Whitford) interviews a shy African-American teen (Dulé Hill) as a potential personal aide to the President.
From Warner Bros.:
After finding out about Sam and his call girl, C.J. is furious that Sam didn't tell her but informed Josh and Toby. She doesn't like being denied information that she believes could negatively affect the President and reminds Sam that they are all held to a higher standard. But Sam hasn't done anything immoral or illegal and insists he has the right to remain friends with Laurie. Later, a reporter tells C.J. he knows about Sam's relationship with a call girl and C.J. manages to talk the reporter out of pursuing the story. In exchange, she gives him a head start on an important story.

According to Toby, in response to Dr. Tolliver's untimely death, President Bartlet is short-tempered with everyone, including the First Lady. The joint chiefs of staff work on the response scenario to the transport plane terrorism. Bartlet admits to Leo he takes this personally. Bartlet dislikes the proposed plan to simply destroy military targets--transmitters--in retaliation for American deaths. He insists the chiefs create a far more disastrous plan, and they comply. But ultimately the President opts for the original plan. Sam, Toby and C.J. write the speech President Bartlet will deliver to inform the American people.

Josh interviews 20-year-old Charles (Charlie) Young for a job. Charlie originally applied for a position as messenger, but Josh gives him the job as Personal Aide to the President. Charlie's mother was killed in the line of duty five months ago as a Washington, D.C. police officer, and now the young man foregoes college in order to raise his younger sister. Since President Bartlet remains in a foul mood, he is unfriendly towards the intimidated young man. But later, the President personally asks Charlie to be his aide and Charlie accepts.


Rob Lowe as Sam (Samuel Norman) Seaborn Deputy Communications Director
Moira Kelly as Mandy (Madeline) Hampton Public Relations Consultant
Dulé Hill (uncredited) as Charlie (Charles) Young Personal Aide to the President
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Press Secretary
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 Star
John Amos as
Admiral (Percy "Fitz") Fitzwallace Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
Guest Starring    
Renee Estevez as Nancy Mrs. Landingham's Assistant
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff
Suzy Nakamura as Cathy Assistant to Deputy Communications Director
Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Landingham President's Secretary /
Delores (first name)
Rose Rollins as Suzanne  
Kim Webster as Kim Ginger / Communications' Aide
Devika Parikh as Bonnie Communications' Aide
Chad McKnight as Staffer #2  
Jack Montoya as Floor Manager  
Ivan Allen as Newscaster Roger Salier
Victor Love as Mike Reporter
Jana Lee Hamblin as Bobbi Reporter
Mindy Seeger as Chris Reporter
Andrew Shaifer as Reporter #4  
Marvin Krueger as Officer #1  
George McDaniel as Officer #2  
Christopher Kriesa as Officer #3 Mitch
Hunter von Leer as Officer #4  
Timothy Busfield (uncredited) as Danny (Daniel Concannon) (Washington Post) Reporter

Information Links

Pericles - Athenian statesman; responsible for the full flowering of Athenian democracy and the Athenian empire; his administration marked Athens' political and cultural apex; achievements included construction of the Acropolis from M-W.COM

Media Quotes

"When the dust settled from our initial hiring, I said, 'Gee, we're looking awfully white here,'"
"We didn't want to replace people, so we added more roles. Believe me, we get it. We're in no way resentful of the NAACP tapping us on the shoulder and pointing it out."
"We're dealing with the problem as quickly and as well as we can." - Aaron Sorkin

"NBC's 'West Wing' runs political gamut, holds the scandal"
by Gail Shister
August 2, 1999
Philadelphia Inquirer

"Well, I believe in nonviolence as a way of life and I'm playing the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief of the most powerful military force in the world, and this guy is anxious to use it. In [this episode] , he takes a terrorist act extremely personally because his friend was killed, and he has to be instructed on the rules of engagement."

"There's no way that I could be president. You can't have a pacifist in the White House and you can't have one in a White House on television, either." - Martin Sheen

"West Wing drama battles real scandal"
by Bob Blakey
September 21, 1999
Calgary Herald

Thursday, July 29, [1999]

The producers have called for a working lunch, during which the cast will discuss the next script (episode No. 3), which Sorkin finished late yesterday afternoon. The meeting, held around the long table in Sound Stage 18's Roosevelt Room, calls for the presence of the entire cast, including Sheen, the last person to enter the room. Seizing the moment, Cadell says, "Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States!" - to which Sheen laughs and says, "How ya doin'?"

As cast members begin reading aloud between nibbles from box lunches (salads, pizzas and burgers), it becomes clear that Sorkin has found an ingenious way of introducing a minority character into the show. (Criticism from the NAACP has caused the network to reevaluate it's mostly all-white casting.) One of the new story lines involves a twentysomething African-American man who is being considered for a job as the president's personal aide. Since the job requires that the aide carry the president's bags, the deputy chief of staff is concerned that it will look bad to hire a black man and asks chief of staff McGarry his opinion. "Christ, Josh, I hold the door open for the president - it's an honor," McGarry responds. "This is serious business. This isn't casting."

The entire cast laughs, and Sorkin, seated at the head of the table, nods delightedly. Sorkin has also begun to address the issue of the president's politics. In this episode, the president responds to a terrorist incident with extreme military force - a fact that doesn't sit so well with Sheen, who is liberal enough to have been courted by the Green Party, which wanted him to run for office on its ticket with Ralph Nader. (Sheen declined.) When the lunch ends, Sheen corners Schlamme and airs his concerns. "It's difficult," he says afterward. "I'm a pacifist, but I have to be an actor first."

"Politically Correct"
by Julian Rubinstein
October 1999
US Magazine

"West Wing" was recently criticized for its all-white cast of leading players. "The NAACP is right," Sorkin says. "The show needs to look like America." It's easy to dismiss his response as boiler-plate liberal patter. However, the way he recently dealt with the issue offers a more thoughtful commentary.

John Spencer, who plays Leo, the president's chief of staff, is seen conferring with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman John Amos during a foreign-policy crisis. When the meeting breaks up, Spencer tells Amos he's about to hire a new presidential aide, known as the president's body man, Charlie (played by Dulé Hill). Spencer asks if Amos would have any problem with a young black man having the very public job of holding doors open and waiting on the president.

Amos responds: "I'm an old black man and I wait on the president."
Spencer: "The kid's gotta carry his bag and . . ."
Amos: "You gonna pay him a decent wage . . . treat him with respect in the workplace?"
Spencer: "Yeah."
Amos: "Then what the hell do I care? . . . I've got honest-to-God battles to win, Leo. I don't have that much time for the cosmetic ones, you know what I'm saying?"

"On a Wing and a Prayer"
by Patrick Goldstein
October 10, 1999
Los Angeles Times

On the West Wing set, Lowe exchanges chitchat with a crew acutely aware that his companion is a journalist. "Hey, Rob, why are you acting so nice today?" says co-star Brad Whitford, who plays Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman. Episode director Mark [Marc] Buckland chimes in. "Hey, Rob, thanks for the car," he says, implying that the actor bribed him to say nice things. "Mine's gray with black leather," says a gaffer, picking up on the ruse. "What'd you get?" Buckland leans over. "He is such a nice guy."

The scene they're about to shoot is a tense meeting in the chief of staff's office, prompted by the president's having ordered an unexpected military strike. Lowe has one line: "It's happening." He paces back and forth, trying every possible take on the words: "It's happening. It's happening? It's happening."

"From rough seas to smooth sailing"
by Mary Roach
November 21, 1999
USA Weekend

A hands-on job filled, as in the show, by a guy who just happens to come to the front desk looking for a job as a messenger?
"Well, no," [Mike] McCurry says. [former press secretary for President Clinton] "In fact, Bill Clinton has had a whole series of personal aides, and it's a very highly coveted job - coveted by intense career-path type young men. And I can't remember that any of them have been African American."

"From the Clinton White House to NBC's 'West Wing' "
by Roger Anderson
February 22, 2000
Scripps Howard News Service

"Well, I don't like attacking an Arab country every time there's a terrorist [problem]," he [Martin Sheen] says referring to an air strike Bartlet ordered in the series's third episode. "I prefer to settle these problems diplomatically, nonviolently. But that's me; I'm not the President."

"Meet The Prez"
by Ken Tucker
February 25, 2000
Entertainment Weekly

"President Bartlet is often a vengeful president when it comes to the Arab world, which troubles me, Martin, greatly," he says. "I'm always fighting for diplomacy rather than military intervention. This is a constant debate we have on the show. But we do have to satisfy the other side sometimes, give a voice to the right." - Martin Sheen

"The President Acting"
by Tom Dunphy
October /November 2000
Irish America

By the time it actually went on the air, the first couple of episodes had an electronic version of the theme, not the orchestra. It was the same arrangement, because by that time it had been orchestrated but 'the theme wasn't finished by the first scoring session. We actually recorded the main title theme during the second orchestral session, for Episode #3, I believe. But we dropped it back into the early episodes so that if you see it now, it has the new orchestral theme. - W.G. Snuffy Walden

"Interview with W.G. Snuffy Walden"
by Mel Lambert
December 2000

"I think something happened for me on the third episode when we did that long walk and talk and I asked for a raise and I was sort of threatening to -- I've even forgotten what the thing was. I was sort of bribing him or doing something that wasn't so nice, but it was so much fun for me, and I just knew that there was a lot more to be seen in terms of the relationship." - Janel Moloney

"TV relationship takes 'Wing'"
by Scott Pierce
December 20, 2000
Desert News

A version of [the title theme] originally accompanied a scene in which President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) prepares to deliver a national radio address from the Oval Office.

"Tommy (Schlamme) heard it and said 'That's our theme,' " [W.G. Snuffy] Walden said of the melody that underscores the power of the presidency.

"TV Shows Hum With Walden's Tunes"
by Lynn Elber
March 5, 2001
Associated Press

Best Casting Discovery - "Dulé Hill. Hands down. I'm proud that he was put on the map through his part on 'The West Wing.'" - Kevin Scott

"Casting Qs with Kevin Scott"
by Bonnie Gillespie
November 1, 2001
Back Stage West
Full Interview in Casting Qs

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