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Original Airdate 03-03-04


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Descriptions  |  Credits  |  Information Links  |  Media Quotes

Descriptions

From TVGuide.com:
Abbey plays doctor on "Sesame Street," giving Elmo a checkup in an effort to soften up her public image. But the other medical news isn't so good: a conservative congresswoman (Cherry Jones) is going after the "below the belt" NIH project that Dr. Ellie Bartlet (Nina Siemaszko) is working on. Meanwhile, the judicial nomination of a law-school friend of Josh's (Michael Gaston) is being held up in committee; and C.J. has a lunch date with her old flame Ben (Brian Kerwin).
From NBC:
The President (Martin Sheen) explodes when a rival conservative congresswoman (Cherry Jones) seeks to torpedo funding for a controversial medical study by the National Insitute of Health by exposing the fact that Bartlet's daughter Ellie (Nina Siemaszko) is working there as a scientist. Meanwhile, as Toby (Richard Schiff) searches for the internal White House leak that led to Ellie's press scrutiny, Josh (Bradley Whitford) works to convince an old college friend (Michael Gaston) to stay the course for his blocked confirmation as a judge on the 6th Circuit federal court. Elsewhere, the First Lady (Stockard Channing) agrees to appear on an episode of "Sesame Street" with Elmo and Big Bird -- despite some political concerns from C.J. (Allison Janney).
From Warner Bros.:
Bartlet becomes furious when a rival conservative congresswoman tries to end funding for a controversial National Institute of Health medical study by exposing the fact that Bartlet's daughter Ellie (Nina Siemaszko) is working at the institute as a scientist. As Toby searches for the internal White House leak that led to Ellie's press scrutiny, Josh tries to convince an old college friend to remain in contention as a judge on the 6th Circuit Federal Court--even though his confirmation has been blocked for the past 12 months. Meanwhile, C.J. urges Abbey to increase her public profile as the First Lady and a working doctor. Part of C.J.'s plan includes educating children about medicine via a public service announcement with Abbey and characters from the children's show "Sesame Street," Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita and Zoe.
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Credits

Stockard Channing as Abbey (Abigail Ann) Bartlet M.D. First Lady
Dulé Hill as Charlie (Charles) Young Personal Aide to the President
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Press Secretary
Joshua Malina as Will (William) Bailey Vice President's Chief of Staff
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
and
Martin Sheen as
Jed (Josiah Edward) Bartlet President of the United States
     
Special Guest Stars    
Gary Cole as Robert "Bingo Bob" Russell Vice President
and
Lily Tomlin as
Debbie (Deborah) Fiderer President's Secretary
Guest Starring    
Nina Siemaszko as Ellie (Eleanor Emily) Bartlet Bartlets' middle daughter
Melissa Marsala as Marina "Rena" Research Assistant
Brian Kerwin as Ben Dryer C.J.'s College Boyfriend
Michael Gaston as Eric Hayden Josh's College Friend
Deirdre Lovejoy as Lisa Wolfe Judiciary Chief of Staff
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
John LaFayette as Dr. Louis Foy HPV Researcher
and
Cherry Jones as
Barbara Layton Congresswoman R-NC
     
Co-Starring    
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Caroll Spinney as Big Bird Muppeteer
Kevin Clash as Elmo Muppeteer
Fran Brill as Zoe Muppeteer
Carmen Osbahr as Rosita Muppeteer
Joseph Mazzarino as Muppet Doctor Muppeteer
Alice Dinnean Vernon as Rosita's Right Hand Muppeteer
Paul McGinnis as Elmo's Right Hand Muppeteer
Penny Griego as Anchor  
Anthony Giangrande as Gary  
Doug Tompos as Bentley's Aide on phone
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Information Links

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Media Quotes

"I love the personal-relationship side of C.J.," she [Allison Janney] says with a chuckle. "I think I've got the press briefings down pretty much, and I'd love to get into some complicated relationship scenarios."

"Allison Janney is the softer side of C.J. Cregg"
by Jay Boyar
July 29, 2003
Orlando Sentinel

Members of the Sesame Street Muppets will make their first-ever guest appearance together on a primetime series when they visit The White House on NBC's "The West Wing." The episode will air Wednesday, March 3, 2004, 9:00 - 10:00 p.m. ET.

Big Bird, Elmo, Zoe and Rosita make their debut when President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) enlists C.J. (Allison Janney) to help improve the First Lady's image. Abbey (Stockard Channing) embraces C.J.'s suggestion to work with the Muppets and show the public that she's a First Lady who is also a working doctor. The White House staff and their children are abuzz when Abbey films a public service announcement in which she gives the beloved Elmo a check-up.

"FROM SESAME STREET TO PENNSYLVANIA AVE: BIG BIRD AND FRIENDS RUFFLE FEATHERS ON 'THE WEST WING'"
February 12, 2004
nbcmv.com

The entire White House staff, with their children, are then all abuzz when Abbey films a public-service announcement - in which she gives Elmo a checkup.

" ELMO D.C. DREAMIN'"
February 14, 2004
New York Post

But even stars get starstruck and Mr [Carroll] Spinney was still buzzing from having guest starred as Big Bird on political drama The West Wing in the latest series.

Big Bird appeared alongside the First Lady in making a public service announcement about inoculations on the show.

"Big Bird on Southern sojourn"
by Jane Smith
February 21, 2004
Otago Daily Times

Officials at the Traditional Values Coalition sent a letter of protest Thursday to the producers of the NBC-TV program "The West Wing" concerning its portrayal of the Coalition in last night's episode. The episode centered on the activities of the "Traditional Values Alliance" and the group's protest of questionable National Institutes of Health grant practices. In fact, the Traditional Values Coalition has protested NIH grantmaking in circumstances very similar to those described in the episode.

...

"Last night's 'West Wing' show is another sound of the death rattle of liberalism bankrolled by federal dollars.

In a letter to the show's Executive Producer John Wells, Mrs. Lafferty and TVC Chairman Rev. Louis P. Sheldon complained about the program's attempt to link TVC to an extremist pastor.

"The problem came as your script did some asides about the Traditional Values Coalition. The most fantastic was your attempt to smear us by linking us to a group which states "The Lord Hates Homosexuals." This sounds to me like the Rev. Fred Phelps who pops up in real life (way too often) arguing "God Hates Fags." The Traditional Values Coalition has publicly criticized Rev. Phelps for this outrageous distortion of the Gospel, particularly some of the stunts he and his followers have done concerning the death of Matthew Shepard."

"It's a pity that your program could not resist the temptation of the cheap shot. A balanced story portraying the issues and the serious people involved in this could have been thought-provoking drama. Instead, you chose to attach some sinister motives to the people with whom you disagree. "

""WEST WING" PORTRAYAL SMEARS TVC - GLOSSES OVER NIH CORRUPTION
Liberal Program Ties TVC To "God Hates Fags" Extremist"
March 4, 2004
Traditional Values Coalition Press Release

Lafferty was joined in the letter by TVC Chairman Rev. Louis P. Sheldon. Both of them were especially concerned with the seemingly purposeful misrepresentation of the group comparing it with a radical, extremist pastor.

"The problem came as your script did some asides about the Traditional Values Coalition," the letter reads. "The most fantastic was your attempt to smear us by linking us to a group which states 'The Lord Hates Homosexuals.' This sounds to me like the Rev. Fred Phelps who pops up in real life (way too often) arguing 'God Hates Fags.'"

For the record, TVC has opposed this tactic implored by Phelps and does not adhere to his methodology for spreading his message.

"It's a pity that your program could not resist the temptation of the cheap shot," they wrote in the letter. "A balanced story portraying the issues and the serious people involved in this could have been thought-provoking drama. Instead, you chose to attach some sinister motives to the people with whom you disagree."

"I suggest you stick to fiction and avoid venturing close to the precipice of real life situations," the letter recommends.

In fact, Lafferty and Sheldon said there is a fine line between distorting facts and offering a compelling work of fiction.

"Fiction which pretends it has something important to say but simply (and I mean simply in every sense of the word) presents the political bias of its writers is going to be found out sooner or later," the letter concludes.

Wells has not yet publicly commented on the episode or about the letter from Lafferty and Sheldon.

"TVC Sends Protest Letter to 'West Wing' Producer Over Distorted Portrayal"
by Jimmy Moore
March 5, 2004
GOP Talon News

From 1969 to 1974, she [Stockard Channing] played the victim of the number painter in Sesame Street. In the sequence, she would be minding her own business, when the number painter jumped out and daubed her.

"Stockard Channing: One tough cookie"
February 16, 2005
Belfast Telegraph

In the parallel universe of television, this is acknowledged in an imminent episode of The West Wing, in which the president's wife, Abbey Bartlet, invites the Muppets to the White House to persuade the nation of her dedication to children's health.

I've been carefully briefed on how to broach this ticklish cross-promotional subject. "Elmo is not aware he's a television character," an ABC publicist has warned. "He thinks he's a 3-year-old monster who happens to live in Sesame Street." In the complex suspension of disbelief, I guess I get my wires crossed. When I mention Abbey Bartlet, Elmo turns almost apoplectic.

"Abbey Bartlet!? Who's Abbey Bartlet? Oh, you mean The West Wing! Elmo knows MISS STOCKARD CHANNING (who plays Mrs Bartlet). Elmo saw Miss Lily Tomlin, she plays on that too, and Mr Martin Sheen. We were really sad when Whatsisname passed away."

After more misunderstanding, I finally work out that he means John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry on The West Wing until a fatal, real-life heart attack last December.

"A ticklish encounter"
July 20, 2006
The Age

Elmo and fellow Sesame Street characters are guest starring on The West Wing next week but the problem is that I've been instructed not to refer to it in such a way because Elmo apparently doesn't realise he's been on the show. Instead he thinks he met the real first lady, Abby Bartlet, played by Stockard Channing (who, like many stars of today, used to be a regular on Sesame Street decades ago).

This logic is perplexing because those celebrities guest star as themselves on Sesame Street, which acknowledges the outside world. So, who are George W. and Laura Bush if Jed and Abby Bartlet are the presidential couple?

"Didn't you get to meet the president's wife?" I ask Elmo, referring to the episode where Abby gives Elmo a needle in a TV ad. "Well, Elmo actually went to the doctor's and got an immu-immunisation (mispronounced) shot," Elmo says.

"Oh. So Mrs Bartlet didn't come to Sesame Street to visit you?" I say, now getting totally confused about which fictional world we're supposed to acknowledge. "No, we went to her, tee-he," is the reply.

I also ask Elmo about the little joke he has with Abby about whether she's still got her medical licence.

What will this 3-year-old say to that? "Elmo doesn't remember, tee-he," is the diplomatic reply. "But it was fun."

"Red in the West Wing"
by Vicki Englund
August 2, 2006
Courier-Mail

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