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In This White House

Original Airdate 10-25-00 Rerun 01-17-01

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The West Wing gets a right winger as young Republican lawyer Ainsley Hayes (Emily Procter) signs on as Associate White House Counsel. She's offered the job at the insistence of the President, after he sees her demolish Sam on a TV talk show. Meanwhile, the president (Zakes Mokae) of an AIDS-ravaged African country visits the White House and spars with drug-company executives.
From NBC:
When a confident Sam (Rob Lowe) is outmatched by a novice Republican adviser, Ainsley Hayes (Emily Procter) on a political point-counterpoint television program, an impressed President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) offers to hire her as assistant White House counsel despite her party affiliation-- a bold move that sends shock waves through the resentful staff. Elsewhere, Toby (Richard Schiff) and Josh (Bradley Whitford) attend a deadlocked White House summit between representatives of pharmaceutical companies and the leaders of AIDS-ravaged African nations to discuss the high price and availability of much-needed drugs. However, the President is concerned for the safety of President Nimbala (Zakes Mokae), the eloquent leader of one of the nations, after news spreads about a bloody coup back home in his country


Rob Lowe as Sam (Samuel Norman) Seaborn Deputy Communications Director
Dulé Hill as Charlie (Charles) Young Personal Aide to the President
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Press Secretary
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
Martin Sheen as
Jed (Josiah Edward) Bartlet President of the United States
Special Guest Star
Emily Procter as
Ainsley Hayes  
Guest Starring    
Zakes Mokae as President "Ned" Nimbala  
Michael Chinyamurindi as President Nimbala's Interpreter  
Michael Cavanaugh as Pharmaceutical Company Executive  
Len Cariou as Alan Damson Pharmaceutical Company Executive
Ted McGinley as Mark Gottfried Host of Capitol Beat
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Sam Jaeger as Bill Kelley Reporter
Brigid Brannagh as Harriet Ainsley Hayes' friend
Tom Gallop as Bruce Ainsley Hayes' friend
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Kim Webster as Ginger Assistant to Communications Director
Kris Murphy as Katie Witt (last name) / Reporter
Mindy Seeger as Chris Reporter
Charles Noland as Steve Reporter
Jerry Sroka as Reporter  
Randolph Brooks as Arthur Leeds (last name) / Reporter
Tracy McCubbin as Lily  
Sean Patrick Murphy as Floor Manger  
Lorenzo Callendar as George  
Tom Hall as Officer Mike
Bill Stevenson as Jarworski  
Molly Schaffer as Aide  

Information Links

AIDS in Africa


Shine Awards

Drama Episode Nomination

Media Quotes

[Lawrence] O'Donnell [Jr.] recently devised a "West Wing" plot based on his Beltway experience. The show needed a way to bring several characters together, so he suggested: How about a White House conference? They could be meeting, O'Donnell suggested, about the cost of AIDS drugs in Africa. He often dealt with drug prices and AIDS in the Senate, and recently wrote a New York column about a Senate effort to make cheaper AIDS drugs available in Africa, which led to an executive order by Clinton. Now it's in development for President Josiah Bartlet.

"Leaving Wonkville, Entering Punditopolis"
by Howard Kurtz
August 21, 2000
Washington Post

Well, I've only been on the job for a few weeks, but generally they call up and say, "We have a scenario where the press secretary is in trouble for some reason, and we need her to establish a relationship with a person in the general counsel's office. Do you have any ideas about how to do that?"

And I come back with a scenario that says, "Yes, let's have her get in trouble by saying the wrong thing on some legal subject. She worries about it all night long, comes in the next day and asks for legal counsel." And I think that will be one of the episodes. - Marlin Fitzwater

"Popular Politics"
by Terence Smith
September 8, 2000
Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

...we have [a segment] about an African country who's coming [to the White House] for an AIDS seminar, and it's a very powerful episode. And it deals with the pharmaceutical companies; it deals with AIDS as a form of genocide in certain African nations. It's under the context of a relationship between the "President" and a leader in an African nation. That's the drama. The drama that we're interested in is their relationship as two men. - Thomas Schlamme

"Popular Politics"
by Terence Smith
September 16, 2000
Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

The other question was, and I quote, "So um, are you ever going to have a conservative we" (Doing the Spoiler Dance) Aaron says, "Actually, I do." I know we've heard some of this before, but I don't know if in this much detail. I'm not sure what the spelling is, but in episode 4 we meet a woman whose name sounded like "Aimsley Hayes" (it's probably online somewhere, but this is almost page 8, and I'm getting tired). "She's mistaken for one of those blonde, leggy, conservative pundits which are all the rage right now, where it turns out none of them ever know anything." He says she's a Harvard Law graduate, which makes a lot of people happy, to which Aaron says, "Yeah, right, like there haven't been any other pop culture graduates of Harvard." Heh heh. Aaron confirms that Sam picks a fight with her on her own show, "Capitol Beat," and "flays Rob Low so badly that POTUS is so impressed he hires her." He pauses, "So THERE."


While she's considered at the level of the Senior Staff, her office is in the unrenovated/unfinished basement (bare pipes, etc), "to rollicking comic effect." :-) Aaron went into how your geographic proximity to the Oval Office is considered a demonstration of how powerful you are, and that people will give up suites across the street for a closet office in the White House. He then gave the example of David Gergen, who worked for Reagan and Bush ..., whose office was put in the old barber shop...barber's chair and all. Aaron found this highly amusing.

Posted at
by Jenn
September 26, 2000
Message 6797
Notes from the Harvard Law School Forum with Aaron Sorkin

Schlamme and Sorkin say an eighth regular is on the way this year, too.

"We don't actually know who yet. I have a feeling she'll be female, I have a feeling she'll be young," - Thomas Schlamme

"West Wing takes us back from cliff"
by Tyler McLeod
October 1, 2000
Calgary Sun

"She is a conservative Republican lawyer, who is hired by the White House counsel's office, who disagrees very charmingly with virtually everything that this White House does but is working there because she was asked to and feels a sense of duty," - Aaron Sorkin

"Undebatable: 'West Wing' In A World Of Its Own"
by James Endrst
October 4, 2000
Hartford Courant

"Ainsley Hayes has an extraordinary sense of duty. When her president asks her to serve, she agrees," [Aaron] Sorkin says, grinning in his it's-my-world-get-used-to-it sort of way. "Which makes her perfect for us."

"Inside The West Wing's New World"
by Sharon Waxman
November 2000
George Magazine

For South Africans already concerned about international perceptions of their President and his unconventional views on AIDS, last week's episode of the TV series The West Wing was the ultimate humiliation.

Josiah Bartlet, the fictional U.S. President in NBC's top-rated television drama series, took a dig at Thabo Mbeki during a show that featured the White House attempting to convince pharmaceutical companies they should lower the prices for AIDS drugs in Africa.

President Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, tells his chief of staff with a sigh, "Then you've got guys like Mbeki who turn around and say that AIDS isn't linked to HIV; it's linked to poverty."

It is linked to poverty, argues the aide. To which Bartlet shoots back: "Would you like me to show you a list of dead millionaires?"

Although the episode has yet to air in South Africa, a news report in the local Business Day points out that an audience of more than 20 million heard that line in North America. And Mr. Mbeki was mentioned at least five more times in the episode.

"It is such an embarrassment," said Mark Heywood, head of the AIDS Law Project in Johannesburg.

"This kind of thing can damage a country. It just shows our President has become a subject of international ridicule.

"But will it make a difference? I doubt it. He'll just shrug it off."

"Mbeki's stance on AIDS confounds critics"
by Corinna Schuler
November 2, 2000
National Post

She had to audition three or four times. ("It's a blur because I never thought I would get to read or get the part.") The first time, she so enjoyed the performance of her reading partner that she told him, "You're really good!" She didn't know it was Sorkin. "Thank God, I didn't know or I wouldn't have been able to do it."

The second time she knew that not only Sorkin was in the room, but also producer John Wells ("ER" and "Third Watch") and producer-director Tommy Schlamme ("Sports Night"). She admitted her nervousness to them, "which is a terrible thing for an actor to say." They were nice about it, but she left thinking she wouldn't get the part anyway.

"From Raleigh to 'The West Wing'"
by Adrienne M. Johnson
November 15, 2000
Raleigh News Observer

"I guess I write a script about five weeks before it's on television," he [Aaron] Sorkin says. "Sometimes in those five weeks, an event will happen almost exactly like what we just did, and it will look like we stole it."

He cites recent storylines on an India/Pakistan conflict that broke out for real days before the show aired and an episode centered on an assassinated Third World leader that aired as a repeat the day the Congo's leader was executed.

"New opponents to besiege 'West Wing'"
by Eric Deggans
February 6, 2001
St. Petersburg Times

And your show on African AIDS, the drug companies, was a great way to deal with that issue that wasn't on the nose. For a lot of gay people, that was a wonderful way to talk about the United States's response internally and externally. - Paris Barclay

Absolutely. And with AIDS in Africa you have then the added insult of, "Well, if it's just Africans, what do we care?" In that episode someone even said, "If it was 25 million Europeans, we [would have] found a cure yesterday." - Aaron Sorkin

"A Few Good Stories"
by Paris Barclay
February 13, 2001
The Advocate

"Collaboration is about having smart people disagree with you," [Aaron] Sorkin says, sounding a lot like the Leo McGarry character when he hired Republican Ainsley Hayes (Emily Procter). "It's also about standing on couches and shouting at each other because you believe something is right."

"Inside 'The West Wing': A visit to the set of TV's most creative prime-time drama"
by Rick Kushman
February 25, 2001
Sacramento Bee

"I'm a true independent and that only helps me socially with 'The West Wing' because I can always find someone in the room I agree with, and it helps with Ainsley," she said. "I love that Ainsley is so fair and that on the show both sides are represented. It reminds us that at the end of the day, we all play for the same team. Whether or not we choose to make the same moves, we're all on the same side. Aaron wrote one of the best lines that Leo said in the first episode I was in: 'We should practice tolerance toward those who disagree with us.' " - Emily Procter

"Ainsley role puts actress in tough spot"
by Rob Owen
May 16, 2001
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Procter's Southern accent is so pronounced, it's not surprising that "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin summoned her to his office on her first day of work.

"He said, 'I thought I'd ask you if you might like for your character to be from North Carolina,'" she recalls. "It was such a sweet thing for him to do. It made me feel so comfortable. I said, 'Oh, I would just love that.' " - Emily Procter

"'West Wing' conservative branches out"
by Virginia Rohan
May 18, 2001
Bergen Record

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