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The War at Home

Original Airdate 02-14-01 Rerun 06-13-01 8 p.m.

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The crisis over the missing DEA agents in Colombia intensifies, and the fallout from the State of the Union Address isn't so good, either. For starters, a liberal senator (Ed Begley, Jr.) is upset about the speech's Social Security suggestions. It doesn't look like the flap over the brutality accusation against the police officer Bartlet cited in the speech is going to go away quickly. And Joey Lucas's polling numbers are discouraging. (Or are they?) Meanwhile, Abbey (Stockard Channing) doesn't like the White House atmosphere.
From NBC:
After his State of the Union speech, Bartlet (Martin Sheen) boldly greenlights a daring military mission to rescue five federal drug agents taken hostage by Colombian terrorist commandos -- until complications arise -- while Toby (Richard Schiff) is confronted by an angry, liberal Senator (Ed Begley, Jr.) who threatens to launch a third-party run for President. Elsewhere, a frustrated Josh (Bradley Whitford) tries to conduct a poll to sample reaction to the speech which he hopes will provide support for a new gun protection law but he wonders why his assistant Donna (Janel Moloney) keeps urging him to ask out an attractive pollster (Marlee Matlin). In addition, C.J. (Allison Janney) tries to convince the host (Ted McGinley) of a TV political program to include a controversial policeman (Richard Riehle) as a guest who was the President's invitee at his speech while Abbey (Stockard Channing) is livid with Bartlet for what he said and didn't say in his speech.


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 Stars    
Stockard Channing as Abbey (Abigail Ann) Bartlet M.D. First Lady
Emily Procter as Ainsley Hayes Associate White House Counsel
Marlee Matlin as
Joey (Josephine) Lucas Pollster
Guest Starring    
Tony Plana as Mickey Troop Assistant Secretary of State
for South America
Richard Riehle as Jack Sloan Detroit Police Officer
Ted McGinley as Mark Gottfried Host of Capitol Beat
Bill O'Brien as Kenny Thurman Sign Language Interpreter
Adam Alexi-Malle as Translator  
Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Landingham President's Secretary /
Delores (first name)
Glenn Morshower as Chysler Mike (first name)
Gregalan Williams as Robbie Mosley Military Officer
Ed Begley, Jr. as
Seth Gillette Sen.
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Kim Webster as Ginger Assistant to Communications Director
Devika Parikh as Bonnie Communications' Aide
Sean Patrick Murphy as Floor Manger  
Ralph Meyering Jr. as Tom  
Thomas Spencer as Military Aide Jeff
Marvin Krueger as Officer #2  
Patrick Falls as Billy Steward
Emiko Parise as Carrie Abbey's Aide
Lee Warren Jones as Aide  
J. Michael Flynn as Officer  

Information Links



Emmy Awards

Submitted for consideration after Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nomination by
Stockard Channing
Submitted for consideration for Outstanding Drama Series Win

Imagen Awards

Cited in Best Primetime TV Series, Drama Nomination

Media Quotes

Ed Begley Jr. will be guest-starring in an upcoming episode as a junior senator from North Dakota, he [Aaron Sorkin] said.

"In some ways, he's going to remind you of Ralph Nader, and that's going to be coming at them [the Bartlet administration] from the left," he said. "He's the darling of the environmental lobby, and the darling of any number of liberal causes, and now he's planning on causing trouble for Bartlet in terms of re-election," he said.

"Casting about to fill the staff"
by Ellen Gray
January 24, 2001
Philadelphia Daily News

That show-wide vulnerability is apparent off screen, too. During shooting last month of an intense episode titled "The War at Home," there was Sheen, between takes, charming visitors who bought a trip to the "West Wing" set at a charity auction. "Their prize," he says with the graciousness of Jed Bartlet, "is me."


"So we get an episode like ('The War at Home,' the finish of a two-parter) with images of coffins coming back. Aaron wants to barely show the image and get out of there. He doesn't want to be maudlin. And I'm saying there's a way to create that imagery and be powerful without going too far." - Thomas Schlamme

Coincidentally, when editing "Bartlet's Third," the first half of the two-parter, Sorkin was grumbling about the ending.

"It feels like we stay at the fair 10 seconds too long," Sorkin tells Julie Herlocker and Janet Ashikaga. "I want it to be two seconds too short. The instinct is to do a visual 'West Wing' moment. I'd love it for people not to believe it's over."

The result on the coffin scene is a quiet finish that ends not with the camera on the flag-draped coffins -- the maudlin view Sorkin dreaded -- but on Bartlet's expressionless face as he watched them go by. A complex, subtle and searing moment.


Working on "The War at Home" a couple of days earlier, Sheen and Spencer are doing scenes in the Oval Office, painstaking scenes where Bartlet learns that a rescue attempt in Columbia has left nine Special Forces soldiers dead.

Schlamme is there, but he's not directing this day. Chris Misiano is, and he calls all the actors by their first names except Sheen, whom he refers to almost entirely as the president.

"We need to move this so John and the president can get through," or, "Wait a beat until John and the president turn around," Misiano says. Everyone does that, Schlamme says.

Sheen is working a line. He plays with it, ending going up, going down, trailing off. Each try registers something different: surprise, anger, resignation. At one point, he and Spencer talk. "That's good," Spencer says. "That's a good note."

They will spend all day in this Oval Office, more than 12 hours for a few minutes of airtime. That's not out of line for a show that requires about 100 hours of shooting for each 44-minute episode.

Much of that time, the actors just wait as the technical crew moves and tunes the lighting and the look.

Sheen and Spencer are used to it. They're old pros and old friends, and the air between them feels as comfortable as between Bartlet and his chief aide, McGarry.

During the break, the two actors sit in directors chairs in a hallway outside the Oval Office. Behind them, through the glass doors of the elegant Roosevelt Room, a full admiral is drinking out of a water bottle, an Army colonel is blowing on his Starbucks coffee, a heavily decorated Air Force officer sits with his feet up reading the paper.

The scene through the doors of the Oval Office looks positively treasonous. A dozen crew members, all wearing T-shirts, sweatshirts and jeans, move furniture and lights. One guy puts colored tape on the carpet with the seal of the president, another stands there eating a sandwich.

Sheen doesn't notice the treason, but he sees that publicist Maria Stasi has a brace on her wrist.

"Maria," he says, "what happened to your hand?"

"Answering all your e-mail," she jokes.

"Ah, computers," Sheen says. "Computers are the devil."

"I'm falling apart," she says.

"That happens a lot in the White House," Spencer says.

They kibbitz more until called back to the cameras. As Sheen walks through the Oval Office door, he looks back at Stasi. "No computers in my house," he says, with a forceful Jed Bartlet tone.

A bit later, Sheen stops joking long enough to say the "West Wing" perfectionism pervades everything because they all know what they have.

"I've done a lot," Sheen says. "This is special."

"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

More than 50 Coast Guard men and women and a C-130 from Air Station Sacramento were featured prominently in the closing scene of the two-part "The West Wing" episode "War At Home," broadcast Feb 14. The scene included 30 members of the Coast Guard Honor Guard from Alexandria, Va. Other Coast Guardsmen from Integrated Support Command San Pedro, Air Station Los Angeles, Group Los Angles/Long Beach, the CGC Point Bridge, Station Channel Island and Air Station Sacramento augmented the honor guard during the filming of a casket transfer ceremony.

Public awareness of the Coast Guard's international missions was greatly enhanced by cooperation in the "War At Home" episode of "The West Wing." In the scenario, a Coast Guard C-130 on law enforcement patrol off South America flies the remains of servicemen who were killed during a hostage rescue mission in Colombia to Dover Air Force Base, Del. The millions of viewers of "The West Wing" were also made aware of the role and professionalism of our Coast Guard Honor Guard during formal national ceremonies. Honor guard members, along with other Coast Guard extras from Southern California units, carried the flag-draped caskets containing the remains of the fallen servicemen through a 21-person Coast Guard honor cordon and past President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) into awaiting hearses.

By CWO Dan Waldschmidt, MOPIC
March 2001
Coast Guard Magazine

"No one [on the staff] gets to eat with the president," [Sylvia] Mathews [who worked in the Clinton Administration] said. "Your tax dollars don't go for that. The president I knew breakfasted on a bagel and Diet Coke. We sat there with nothing."

"Ex-White House staffer now foundation exec"
by Bob Schwarz
October 13, 2002
Charleston Gazette

"I never have a lot of medical terminology. They learned that about the first or second year of 'West Wing.' I'm hopeless at it. They just let me go with other stuff. On take 10, they said, 'This is the end of this. This is clearly not her forte.' I don't see how they do it on 'ER.'" - Stockard Channing

"Channing Returns for More 'Practice'"
by Kate O'Hare
March 22, 2006

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