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A Change is Gonna Come

Original Airdate 12-01-04

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A flap over a Taiwanese flag that Barlet inadvertently accepted at a prayer breakfast throws a monkeywrenchinto an upcoming China summit. Meanwhile, John Hoynes (Tim Matheson) reemerges. He's running for president and wants Josh to join him.
From NBC:
Final preparation goes into President Bartlet's (Martin Sheen) visit to China when he accepts a flag from the Taiwanese delegation representing the Taiwanese Independence Movement -- prompting China to mobilize for military action.
From Warner Bros.:
Final preparations are being made for Bartlet's visit to China when he accepts a flag from the delegation representing the Taiwanese Independence Movement--prompting China to prepare for military action.


Stockard Channing as Abbey (Abigail Ann) Bartlet M.D. First Lady
Dulé Hill as Charlie (Charles) Young Deputy Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Chief of Staff
Joshua Malina as Will (William) Bailey Vice President's Chief of Staff
Mary McCormack as Kate (Katherine) Harper Deputy National Security Advisor
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 Former 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    
Lily Tomlin as Debbie (Deborah) Fiderer President's Secretary
Gary Cole as Robert "Bingo Bob" Russell Vice President
Ed O'Neill as Eric Baker Governor of Pennsylvania
Tim Matheson as
John Hoynes Former Vice President
Guest Starring    
Paxton Whitehead as Bernard Thatch  
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
George Kee Cheung as Ambassador Ling-Po  
Ming Lo as Yahlin Chinese Advance Team
Philip Baker Hall as
Senator Matt Hunt Chairman of Armed Services
Special Musical Appearance By
James Taylor as
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Ivan Allen as TV Reporter Roger Salier
Kathrin Lautner as Diane Mathers Newswoman
Katherine Ann McGregor as Suzanne Hoynes John Hoynes' Wife
Cheryl Carter as Congresswoman Haas  
Tim Snay as Senator Harris  
Michael Kostroff as Richard Squire Counsel's Office

Information Links


Media Quotes

"It's a slightly unreal element on the show that we haven't had the political sharks circling the White House. That dynamic will now be added." - Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr.

"'West Wing': Is It Facing a Struggle to Survive?"
by Bernard Weinraub
August 12, 2004
New York Times

"We are moving into what will be an electoral cycle on the show," said Wells. "We came in, six years ago, a year and a half into the Bartlet administration. One of the things we haven't played is the latter part of an administration and, when you no longer have the same political pressures of being re-elected, what you want to accomplish. We want to look at an election campaign. We'll be having our political primaries this year (about a year off the real-life election cycle). During the fall, we're meeting with prospective candidates and watching everyone position themselves for the primaries and the general election."

"New flight for 'West Wing'"
by Mike McDaniel
October 14, 2004
Houston Chronicle

"Part of what we're playing throughout the fall is the growing unease with the leading candidates that show up for the Democratic nomination," [John] Wells says, "and should the White House try behind the scenes to get more involved in seeing if a better candidate should be put forward?"

"Season of Change for 'The West Wing'"
by Rick Porter
October 18, 2004

Bartlet, meanwhile, is pondering his legacy and feeling a "growing unease" with the prospective Democratic candidates.

"That, we think, is interesting territory, when you look at who is likely to replace you and realize that you need to stay above the fray and, at the same time, you're not happy with the direction the election is going in," Wells says.

" In 'West Wing' time, it's more"
by Virginia Rohan
October 20, 2004
Bergen Record

Josh and Toby are not thrilled by C.J.'s ascent. "They're above me in the chain of command, and now I'm their boss," she says. Also, C.J. "is still a woman in a man's world." - Allison Janney

"Allison Janney's at center of a shakeup on 'West Wing'"
by Gail Shister
November 2, 2004
Philadelphia Inquirer

The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia will make a cameo appearance on next week's episode of NBC's "The West Wing" as the archive of a document by fictional President Josiah Bartlet that temporarily relinquished his power.

The Dec. 1 episode includes a short White House scene between Bartlet, played by Martin Sheen, and a fictional Pennsylvania governor. During the exchange, Bartlet hands over the letter that signed away his presidency to the House speaker after his daughter was kidnapped ...


But the state's real-life executive, Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, said he is "thrilled that Hollywood is recognizing the importance of the National Constitution Center - one of my favorite places in Pennsylvania."

[Constitution Center spokeswoman Denise Venuti Free] Free said the museum's cameo was the idea of Philadelphia native Josh Singer, who is among the script writers for the popular show.

"Philly's Constitution Center gets cameo on 'West Wing' show"
November 24, 2004
Associated Press

When is TV more real than real life? On tonight's episode of "West Wing," it appears. James Taylor plays himself on the NBC drama at an event very much like the Kennedy Center Honors, which he's performed at in previous years. He sings "Change is Gonna Come," and Taylor's wife, Caroline, plays a sculptress who is being honored and is seated next to the TV president played by Martin Sheen. Caroline Taylor, who works with the Boston Symphony Orchestra ...

"Sox star becomes an author"
by Carol Beggy & Mark Shanahan, Globe Staff
December 1, 2004
Boston Globe

Correspondent Scott Ruble thinks the writers on The West Wing were drawing a little inspiration from our fair city for last week's episode, in which President Bartlett created a brief international incident by accepting a gift of a Taiwanese independence flag, to the ire of China. "The episode was so clearly lifted from the happenings of San Francisco's South Vietnamese flag episode," Ruble wrote, referring to a faux pas last year by Supervisor Fiona Ma in which she officially recognized the "Freedom Flag." Mayor Willie Brown stepped in with a face-saving veto.

"Optimism rises in San Francisco"
by Adriel Hampton
December 7, 2004
San Francisco Examiner

For a while, Pat Gove thought Josiah Bartlet was getting off easy.

That changed when Bartlet - the fictional president on the NBC drama "The West Wing" - started having symptoms she recognized.

Gove and Bartlet have something in common: Both have multiple sclerosis (MS).

The disease - a chronic degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system - only had caused political fallout for Bartlet until a few weeks ago. Now the character, played by Martin Sheen, is shown suffering the disease's many physical effects, including numbness, paralysis and loss of vision.

"Now it's getting more into how MS really is," the 54-year-old Mason woman says.

Multiple sclerosis patients and their doctors say the series is offering a realistic portrayal of the disease's unpredictable progression.

In the Dec. 1 episode, Bartlet reports losing vision in one eye. ...


Dr. Michael Schmerler, a neurologist with Riverhills Healthcare, says the symptoms shown so far track with textbook examples of how MS affects patients.

"We see these symptoms, unfortunately, all too often," Schmerler says.

Nancy Corbett, 41, a Newport artist, has suffered the same vision problems and paralysis as Bartlet.

The series "is pretty accurate for most MS patients," Corbett says.

"'West Wing' showing 'how MS really is'"
by Peggy O'Farrell
December 15, 2004
Cincinnati Enquirer

On "The West Wing," Sheen plays a president who finds ways to do his job despite multiple sclerosis. A University of California consultant has advised Sheen on how to play the struggle with the disease.

"What she told me was to be subtle. I can have many ups and downs," he said.

Subtle and optimistic. "(MS) patients see the light at the end of the tunnel," Sheen said.

Sheen isn't an official spokesman for MS because, unlike his character, he doesn't have the disease.

"Sheen shuns political aspirations"
by Dave Mason
February 18, 2005
Scripps Howard News Service

In addition, visitors can witness an unveiling of a special "The West Wing" exhibit at 3:30 p.m. in the Grand Hall Lobby. The exhibit features props from the December 1, 2004 episode, "A Change is Gonna Come," that mentioned the National Constitution Center, including: a copy of the script, a signed letter from President Bartlett invoking the 25th Amendment (signed by Martin Sheen), the pen he used to sign it, and a DVD loop of the episode. The exhibit will remain in the Center's Grand Hall Lobby, which is free and open to the public, through Labor Day.

""The West Wing" Actress, Writers to Appear at National Constitution Center for Discussion, Screening"
April 15, 2005
National Constitution Center

When Philly-born Josh Singer studied constitutional law at Harvard, he never figured he'd be writing about it for NBC's The West Wing.

"It blows my mind all the time," says Singer, 33, in his second season as a West Wing staff writer. "I'm incredibly lucky. To be able to write for this show is just crazy."


The back story: On a Singer-written episode Nov. 30, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) donated to the center the letter in which he had invoked the 25th Amendment.

For the constitutionally impaired, that one concerns presidential disability. In the season-four cliffhanger in '03, Bartlet stepped down when his daughter was kidnapped.

Through Singer, West Wing gave the letter, the pen Sheen used to sign it, and the script from the Nov. 30 episode to the center. It's part of a special exhibition that will open May 5.

To put it mildly, Singer (Upper Dublin High Class of '90) took a circuitous route to his dream job.

After graduation from Yale and a brief stint at Children's Television Workshop, he earned law and business degrees at Harvard. ("I didn't want to practice law. I just wanted to be able to play with legal concepts.")

Internships at Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel followed. Deciding his destiny was as a writer, Singer penned mock scripts for HBO's Six Feet Under and West Wing.

Normally, the odds of such scripts reaching the top are minuscule. For Singer, however, fortune intervened.

He sublet an apartment in L.A. from a woman whose boyfriend happened to be Lew Wells, a West Wing producer and brother of series honcho John Wells. Lew got the script to John, who offered Singer his first writing job.

"People spend years trying to get their stuff into the right hands," Singer says. Wells "is the best in the business, an unbelievable storyteller."

"Native son forges 'West Wing'-Constitution Center ties"
by Gail Shister
April 26, 2005
Philadelphia Inquirer

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