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18th and Potomac

Original Airdate 05-09-01 Rerun 08-29-01

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With disastrous hypothetical polling numbers from Joey Lucas (Marlee Matlin) in hand, staffers prepare to announce the President's condition. But first, both Sam and Oliver Babish (Oliver Platt) question the First Lady (Stockard Channing) about the matter. Meanwhile, a crisis erupts in Haiti; Josh deals with two Democratic senators who are less than enthusiastic about the Government's tobacco-industry suit; and male staffers can't help but give Mrs. Landingham (Kathryn Joosten) car-buying advice.
From NBC:
Thorny issues encircle the White House as the President (Martin Sheen) and his staff grapple with breaking the news of his illness in an exclusive national broadcast while the newly elected president of Haiti flees for his life and asks for sanctuary in the U.S. embassy -- which would place the compound under army attack. C.J. (Allison Janney) and Leo (John Spencer) weigh the dicey arrangements of keeping the blistering news a secret until the telecast while White House counsel Babish (Oliver Platt) finds a disturbing detail in the First Lady's (Stockard Channing) medical treatment of Bartlet. Elsewhere, a frustrated Josh (Bradley Whitford) needs $30 million more from a Senate committee to continue the Justice Department's case against Big Tobacco companies but hits a roadblock when he solicits the crucial votes of two Democratic Senators, and virtuous Mrs. Landingham (Kathryn Joosten) pays sticker price for a new car because she fears anything less will violate federal stipulations about receiving gifts.


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
Oliver Platt as Oliver Babish White House Counsel
Marlee Matlin as
Joey (Josephine) Lucas Pollster
Guest Starring    
Anna Deavere Smith as Dr. Nancy McNally National Security Advisor
John Rubinstein as Andy Ritter Dem.
Peter Michael Goetz as Paul Hacket NBC Executive
Richard McGonagle as Warren Dem.
Robert Walden as Rossitter Dem.
Kathryn Joosten as Mrs. Delores Landingham President's Secretary
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Gregalan Williams as Robbie Mosley Military Officer
Victor McCay as Jake Dandridge  
Glenn Morshower as Chysler Mike (first name)
Bill O'Brien as Kenny Thurman Sign Language Interpreter
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Devika Parikh as Bonnie Communications' Aide
Thomas Spencer as Officer #1 Jeff
Bradley James as Secret Service Agent Donnie
Ana Mercedes as Sally Military Aide
Roger Ontiveros as Sidney  
Kris Murphy as Katie Witt (last name) / Reporter
Mindy Seeger as Chris Reporter
Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell (last name) / Reporter
Charles Noland as Steve Reporter
Wendy Haines as Abbey's Agent  
Eric A. Payne as Agent at Door  
Gary Cervantes (uncredited) as Bobby Civilian Advisor

Information Links



Prism Awards

TV Prime Time Drama Series Episode Commendation

Media Quotes

The First Lady, an occasional character played by Stockard Channing, will have a major storyline next season, he [Aaron Sorkin] said. "Did the First Lady commit a crime by helping to hide the President's medical condition," he explained. "Did she remove a file?"

"Sorkin Took His Shot"
by Bob Heisler
July 17, 2000
New York Daily News

"The West Wing" isn't exactly reality television, but it's real enough for Assemblyman Kevin Shelley.

The San Francisco Democrat adjourned the California Assembly session Thursday in memory of Mrs. Landingham, the fictional president's secretary on the Emmy-winning political drama.


Before adjourning the session, a straight-faced Shelley called Mrs. Landingham a "great American" whose "contributions to the nation were too numerous to count."

The announcement caught many legislators by surprise.

"Nobody could tell if she really died or fake died," said Terri Carbaugh, a Shelley aide.

The lawmaker, who lives in Sacramento during the week, calls his wife during commercial breaks to discuss plot twists, he said.

"It was tragic. She was crying, I was upset. It was terrible," Shelley said.

"At first everyone was stunned but then they were rolling in the aisles. Several said that they really appreciated that," he said.

"California Assembly Mourns TV Character"
by Unknown
May 10, 2001
Associated Press

[Kathryn] Joosten was told it was just a creative decision by the series producers, Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme.

"Older women like Mrs Landingham in The West Wing called endangered species"
by Lynn Elber
May 14, 2001
Associated Press

Actress Emily Procter knew what to expect at the end of last week's "The West Wing," but she was shocked by the death of Mrs. Landingham anyway.

Procter, who has a recurring role on the series as White House lawyer Ainsley Hayes, watched the episode with a neighbor who was unaware of what was coming.

"I didn't tell her, and I kept looking at my watch because I knew it was happening," Procter said. "Then I thought maybe they changed their minds, maybe it's a trick. But then in the last five minutes I was shocked. I was actually sitting there with my mouth open catching flies. ... I think [series creator] Aaron [Sorkin] is just incredibly dramatic, and I think he knows Mrs. Landingham is wonderful, and he knows people love her and that's what makes good drama."

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

Hearing about the statehouse eulogy for Mrs. Landingham, "Wing" producer Thomas Schlamme sighs, "It made me think this power problem in California will never be solved by this group of people."

"The Killing Season"
by Scott Brown and Lynette Rice
May 25, 2001
Entertainment Weekly

The plot twist shocked most viewers of "The West Wing," but not Kathryn Joosten.

The actress, who has portrayed presidential secretary Dolores Landingham for the two seasons "The West Wing" has been on the air, knew exactly what was coming earlier this spring when she was told the show's producer wanted to see her.

"There's only one reason you get called into the producer's office," she said, "and that's because they're going to kill you off."


"It wasn't done cavalierly, believe me," said Thomas Schlamme, the executive producer who gave Joosten the fateful phone call.


Sworn to secrecy about the character's fate and not trusting herself, Joosten took off on vacation the week her "death" aired. She returned to find about 15 phone messages and 80 e-mails.

"Even the fellow who sold me a car two years ago called," she said.

He inquired about Joosten's health - and about whether she was interested in a trade-in. Since television characters are often written out of shows for health concerns, she's been assuring people that she's fine. It wasn't a contractual tiff, either. Joosten wasn't demanding more money or more screen time.


Joosten said she had come to terms with Mrs. Landingham's death even before entering Schlamme's office, correctly figuring his reasons for meeting with her.

"I don't get to vote on these things," she said. "But it's been tremendous for me. The role itself has been a delight and being on 'West Wing' has been a delight on every level. The publicity resulting from Mrs. Landingham's untimely demise has been good for me personally."

"A Death Riles 'West Wing' Family"
by David Bauder
June 13, 2001
Associated Press

Oh, I have a little Dulé Hill story: By the time they got to "18th and Potomac," they had told everyone that what was going to happen to Mrs. L. - except Dulé. He had been in New York for a few days and they hadn't had a chance to talk to him before the table read. So when Dulé got to that line - THAT line - he couldn't say it. Aaron said it was like he was saying to himself, "if I don't read it, it can't happen. It can't be true." Isn't that sad? Just makes you feel for him all the more.

Posted at
by List Owner
June 19, 2001
Message 5319

When I talked to Aaron on Monday, I told him that I wished I hadn't known, [about the death of Mrs. Landingham] and he said, I wish you ALL hadn't known! It takes away from that punch from the blindside. I think that's how he put it.

Posted at
by List Owner
June 21, 2001
Message 5221

Viewers fumed because Sorkin chose to kill a favorite character, Bartlet's secretary. "People hated me for a while," Sorkin says of that last one. "My dentist - who is not someone I want to be mad at me when I'm in the dental chair, was very upset."

"This fall, 'The West Wing' gears up for re-election TV"
by Mike Hughes
July 23, 2001
Gannett News Service

"The West Wing" producer Aaron Sorkin says he has had second thoughts about killing off President Bartlet's secretary last season - especially when his dentist, preparing to inject his gums with a long needle, whipped back the chair and asked, "Now, why did you kill Mrs. Landingham?"


Sorkin said the response has been amazing, as if a real person had died. "The worst part of killing Mrs. Landingham was losing Kathryn from our cast," he said.

He recalled that the idea to kill the character came to him when the cast attended a charity banquet, and he and Joosten went outside for a cigarette.

"She happened to mention that she was going out for a pilot, and I didn't hear a thing she said because I started thinking about what it would be like if she left us," he said.

"Then I kept thinking about it and saw Mrs. Landingham's death as a way to take the president right to the edge and question God.

"Now the joke around the set is, 'Don't take a smoke break with Aaron,' " he added.

"Sorkin Hears An Earful From Mrs. Landingham Fans"
by Walt Belcher
July 24, 2001
Tampa Tribune

"I've received condolence cards and a lot of letters, mostly from people writing to say, 'Why?' and 'Now what happens?' and 'I don't like it.'

"As a matter of fact," she continues, "there was a group in Washington, D.C., that posted a condolence ad in a magazine there." - Kathryn Joosten

"Death Becomes Mrs. Landingham"
by Charlie Mason
August 8, 2001
TV Guide Online

Reminded of an episode late last season - when she [Stockard Channing] corrected every attempt to call her "Mrs. Bartlet" by repeating "Dr. Bartlet" and ended with the explosion "When did I think the American people were so stupid that they'd like me better if I stopped calling myself Dr. Bartlet?" - she savours the moment. "I love that line."

"Stockard Channing takes wing"
by Richard Ouzounian
September 23, 2001
Toronto Star

President Bartlet's physician-wife, Abigail, who is not the White House physician, has secretly injected him with Betaseron. But the plot hints that even she may not know everything about his medical history. For example, during Mr. Bartlet's many trips, other doctors could have prescribed medications without her knowledge. In one scene, the White House counsel suggests the possibility that her husband could have had a secret affair, acquired a sexually transmitted infection and been treated for it, all without her knowledge.

"Very Real Questions for Fictional President"
by Lawrence K. Altman, M.D
October 9, 2001
New York Times

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) would not shake most Americans' confidence in elected officials, reports a new national survey conducted by RoperASW.

According to the survey, nearly eight out of 10 people (77 percent) who are aware of MS would remain confident in a leader's ability to perform his or her job duties despite the disease. Sixty percent say that MS would not affect their decisions to reelect a community leader with the disease.

The survey is similar to a fictional poll conducted last season on the top-rated program, "The West Wing," ...

Conducted by RoperASW
October 10, 2001
The West Wing Multiple Sclerosis Survey 2001 for Berlex Laboratories

Mrs. Landingham is killed by a drunk who "ran a light at 18th and Potomac" -- actually a quiet intersection in residential Southeast with no traffic light.

"The Reliable Source"
by Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
March 5, 2006
Washington Post

"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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