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Original Airdate 11-22-00 Rerun 03-28-01

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It's the Sunday before Thanksgiving and the most pressing White House business is the unexpected arrival of two live turkeys. What to do with them? "Slacker" C.J. (Allison Janney) has just left, so Sam and Toby have them stashed in her office. But the quiet times are interrupted by news that a shipload of illegal immigrants from China has just been intercepted. It seems that they're claiming asylum as persecuted Christians. The next morning, Toby presses the President to appoint Leo's sister (Deborah Hedwall), the superintendent of schools in Atlanta, to an important Education Department post. Making this politically dicey is the fact that she's a foe of school prayer.
From NBC:
As Thanksgiving nears, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) has his own hot-potato issue when a boatload of persecuted Chinese evangelical Christians arrives in California seeking asylum, while a perplexed C.J. (Allison Janney) must choose between two turkeys for the Presidential pardon ceremony -- with the other destined for the chopping block. While Bartlet's staff argues over sending back the illegal immigrants, Toby (Richard Schiff) wants the President to appoint Leo's (John Spencer) controversial sister Dr. Josephine McGarry (Deborah Hedwall) for a minor education post, fully aware that her opposition to school prayer will cause the controversial subject to emerge again. Elsewhere, Toby, Josh (Bradley Whitford) and Sam (Rob Lowe) make plans to watch football while Charlie (Dulé Hill) is dispatched by Bartlet to find the precise cutting instrument for Thanksgiving dinner.


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
Guest Starring    
F. William Parker as Reverend Al Caldwell  
Annie Corley as Mary Marsh  
Deborah Hedwall as Josephine McGarry Ph.D. "Josey" "Jo" / Leo's sister
Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Landingham President's Secretary /
Delores (first name)
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Sam Anderson as John La Salle (last name from
Henry O as
Jhin Wei  
John Prosky as Aide #4 in Toby's meeting
John Mariano as Bertram INS
Sharon Omi as Gardener INS
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Devika Parikh as Bonnie Communications' Aide
Kim Webster as Ginger Assistant to Communications Director
Jonah Rooney as Morton Horn Turkey handler
Joe D'Angerio as Russo Joseph (first name)
Al Rodrigo as Commander Cale  
Charles Noland as Reporter #1 Steve
Timothy Davis-Reed as Reporter #2 Mark
Ivar Brogger as Aide #1 in Toby's meeting
Cameron Daddo as Aide #2 Wayne in Toby's meeting
Rich Cooper as Aide #3 in Toby's meeting

Information Links



Emmy Awards

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Nomination for
Laura Innes
Submitted for consideration for Outstanding Drama Series Win

Media Quotes

here's where they are as of Monday, September 25th [2000]. They're finishing up episode six, and he just turned in episode seven today. He started to brainstorm episode eight during the Forum (we also gave him an idea for later on that he seemed to like, which I'll get to later), because he and the creative team have to start writing episode eight tomorrow. SPOILER! :-) Episode 8 is going to be the Thanksgiving episode...he then gets *really, really* excited as he tells us what he think he's going to do. "So every Thanksgiving (in real life) the President pardons the turkey...I mean, that right there is good TV! It turns out they actually get two turkeys, and it's the job of the Press Secretary to decide which one is more photogenic. I mean, Allison Janney and live turkeys!! We're in business!!!!" He was nearly jumping up and down with excitement...I CANNOT WAIT for this episode! "So I'll walk into a room of people, half of whom will be writers and the others special consultants." He lists them and then gets this evil gleam in his eye about asking Dee Dee Myers about the wild turkeys running around the White House.


"What I REALLY want to ask Dee Dee is how exactly do the Turkeys GET to the White House?" He talks about trying to find out random thanksgiving trivia.

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

In November, the Emmy award-winning show's opening scene showcased the Coast Guard's lead role and inter-agency coordination during the interdiction phase of an illegal Chinese migrant smuggling case. The scene was filmed at Coast Guard Integrated Support Command San Pedro, Calif. People and equipment from various Southern California Coast Guard units helped provide drama for this critical opening scene.

An Air Station Los Angeles helicopter raced across the screen, en route to the suspected smuggling vessel. Utility boats from Station Los Angeles/Long Beach also proceeded toward the scene while the crew of the CGC Tybee made preparations to get underway. Coast Guard and other federal agency emergency vehicles and personnel converged on the Coast Guard pier while Group Los Angeles/Long Beach personnel and actors hustled about, making ready for the migrants to be brought ashore.

The preparation for and filming of this scene took more than eight hours. The scene lasted less than a minute during the show's opening sequence. However, during that minute, millions of viewers were given a sense of the intensity surrounding the early stages of an illegal migrant interdiction case.

"The Coast Guard's advertising budget could not cover the cost of bringing this message to the prime-time audience," Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Loftus, director of the Coast Guard Motion Picture and Television Office in Los Angeles said. "Air time during top-rated, prime-time shows cost advertisers millions of dollars," Loftus explained.

By CWO Dan Waldschmidt, MOPIC
March 2001
Coast Guard Magazine

Sorkin is delighted that his Thanksgiving episode on the plight of persecuted Chinese Christians sparked morning-after questions about the biblical origins of "shibboleth" (Judges 12:6), ...

"A true believer in 'The West Wing'"
by Nancy Haught - Religion News Service
March 31, 2001
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Our first two seasons we had Peter Parnell, who wrote The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket, Hyde in Hollywood, Romance Languages and Flaubert's Latest, all of which debuted at Playwrights Horizons in New York. He was also my first writing teacher. He told me what Bartlet might ask a Chinese refugee to determine if his Christain [Christian] faith was sincere, ... - Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin

Posted at Forum
by Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin
July 22, 2001

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