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Celestial Navigation

Original Airdate 02-16-00 Rerun 08-16-00 and 07-25-01

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While Sam and Toby go to Connecticut to get the President's Supreme Court nominee (Edward James Olmos) out of jail, Josh tells a group about a typical day at the White House.
From NBC:
Sam (Rob Lowe) and Toby (Richard Schiff) are dispatched to Connecticut for some damage control and to secure the secret release of President Bartlet's (Martin Sheen) choice (Edward James Olmos) for the Supreme Court, who has been jailed for alleged drunk driving and resisting arrest. Meanwhile, Josh (Bradley Whitford) is a guest lecturer at a college class to talk about working for the President and he recounts the previous week's flare-ups, which include: his feeble attempt to fill in as the White House spokesman at a press conference where he promises that the President has "a secret plan to fight inflation," and the media glare that engulfs the African-American HUD secretary (CCH Pounder) who publicly labeled a prominent Republican as a racist.


Rob Lowe as Sam (Samuel Norman) Seaborn Deputy Communications Director
Moira Kelly as Mandy (Madeline) Hampton Public Relations Consultant
Dulé Hill as Charlie (Charles) Young Personal Aide to the President
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Press Secretary
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    
CCH Pounder as Debbie (Deborah) O'Leary Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Timothy Busfield as Danny (Daniel) Concannon (Washington Post) Reporter
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff
Robert David Hall as David Nessler  
Vaughn Armstrong as Sgt. MacNamara  
Special Appearance By
Edward James Olmos as
Justice Roberto Mendoza Supreme Court nominee
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Kim Webster as Ginger Assistant to Communications Director
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Devika Parikh as Bonnie Communications' Aide
Jacqueline Torres as Reporter #1 Sondra
Charles Noland as Reporter #2 Steve
Diana Morgan as Reporter #3 Jesse
Kris Narmont as Katie Witt (last name) / Reporter
Victor Love as Mike Reporter
Jason C. Morgan as Peter Officer
Bob Thompson as Steward Billy
J.P. Stevenson as Jonathan Reporter
Kelly Fialing as Pretty College Student  

Information Links

Polaris - North Star
Socratic - of or relating to Socrates, his followers, or his philosophical method of systematic doubt and questioning of another to elicit a clear expression of a truth supposed to be implicitly known by all rational beings all from M-W.COM


Emmy Awards

Submitted for consideration for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Win by
Allison Janney
Submitted for consideration for Outstanding Drama Series Win

Media Quotes

"There's a scene in a [recent] episode in which an African-American woman, the secretary of housing and urban development [played by CCH Pounder], has lost her cool in a committee meeting and accused the committee chairman of being a racist. And the way [Dee Dee] did it was by using the phrase 'If the shoe fits ...' In my script I [Aaron Sorkin] keep having people say, 'If she was going to lose her cool, couldn't she find some better way of phrasing it than "If the shoe fits?"' That kind of thing drives Dee Dee crazy because I spend the entire episode mocking her dialogue." Myers, for her part, laughs good-naturedly and admits, "I'm learning a lot about writing dialogue from Aaron."

"Meet The Prez"
by Ken Tucker
February 25, 2000
Entertainment Weekly

[This] episode involved a series of gaffes made by the staff during the president's absence, culminating in a scene in which a sleep-deprived Sheen goes into a priceless slow burn while being briefed on the problems by his hesitant, apologetic underlings.

"They wouldn't be that hangdog," [Mike] McCurry [former press secretary for President Clinton] observes. Obviously, the African-American "personal aide to the president" is a piece of dramatic license, one might think.

"No, there is such a job," McCurry says. "And it's a hard, hard job. They take it a little bit far. He wouldn't go right into the president's bedroom to wake him up for a meeting. But he would be the one to call him on the phone to wake him up."

"Presidential Seal"
by Roger Anderson
February 27, 2000
Scripps Howard News Service in Fresno Bee

[Melissa] Fitzgerald recalled a day on which the show was shooting a presidential "photo op."

"There were tons of extras that day working," and Sheen, she said, made a point of introducing himself to each and every one.

"It was the most lovely thing. Everyone felt part of the scene," she said. "I thought, 'My God. He really looks like the president.' "

"'Wing'ed angel"
by Ellen Gray
March 15, 2000
Philadelphia Daily News

I've only seen one that I thought was so far off the mark that it was really a mistake, and that's when they had a Supreme Court nominee arrested for speeding, and two members of the White House staff went and broke him out of jail, which is an impeachable offense. And for any White House to really try that would have been stupid. First of all, everybody in the White House would have gotten fired. The president would have gotten impeached, and the Supreme Court nominee would have to be dumber than an owl to ever break the law by getting out of a speeding ticket. So that was the only one that I thought was really off the mark. - Marlin Fitzwater

"Popular Politics"
by Terence Smith
September 8, 2000
Online NewsHour with Jim Lehrer

Apparently James Olmos heard that they were going to have the White House name a Hispanic to the Supreme Court and begged to let him play the part. "At that point the character was only to appear in that one episode, we never said "'there's more for you down the road,' and that he literally only had about 4 lines, one of which was "'Thank you, Mr. President,' but he didn't care." Then they wrote Celestial Navigation.

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

Hail to the cheap? NBC's hit West Wing is miserly with its guest stars, says Oscar nominee Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver)

Olmos, in town last week for PBS's annual meeting, says he was asked to work for scale - about $4,500 per episode - when he did two guests shots as Supreme Court nominee Judge Roberto Mendoza in the '99-2000 season.

"West Wing complained when they had to pay me," says Olmos, who stars in the forthcoming PBS drama American Family. "They felt they had a top show, and wouldn't everybody want to do it for nothing?

"I said: 'No, I don't do anything for commercial television for nothing. You don't need the help!' I'm a little too expensive for them. You can't ask major talent to come on board without being able to support themselves."

NBC referred calls to West Wing producer Warner Bros. Television. Warner Bros. had no comment, but sources close to West Wing say Olmos received "well above scale" for his work.

Ironically, perpetually cash- strapped PBS is giving Olmos his "normal fee" for Family, originally developed for CBS by filmmaker Gregory Nava (Selena)

"PBS came in strong," says Olmos, 54, who's married to Sopranos shrink Lorraine Bracco. "Obviously, they appreciate my work and my talent, and they're paying me for it."

"PBS pays up more readily than 'West Wing' for Olmos"
by Gail Shister
June 19, 2001
Philadelphia Inquirer

On "Celestial Navigation"
"I just knew one way or another, I was putting cotton balls in Allison's mouth." That whole episode sort of evolved as a prank on her but really because he has such respect for her as a comedienne.

Posted at
by AJ
September 12, 2003
Message 31492
Notes from "A Conversation with Aaron Sorkin" at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills

"The day after I won the first Emmy was one of my favorite days professionally and psychologically. Most actors are self-deprecating. We think someone will discover 'I'm not talented.' So psychologically, having that Emmy that day was a release. And I now permanently have a title: 'Four-time Emmy winner Allison Janney.' Hopefully, when this run (on "West Wing") is over, that will get me some respect as well as my next job. There are also jokes to be had from the Emmy. When you're on the set and the director is giving you notes, you can pull it out and say, 'Excuse me?"' - Allison Janney

"Waxing About the Award's Impact"
by Lee Alan Hill
May 2, 2005
Television Week

JANNEY I've always gotten parts who are strong and the glue of the family, so I related to C.J. right away.

SORKIN Allison ended up testing against CCH Pounder, who was fantastic. It was agonizing.

May 11, 2006
Entertainment Weekly

Dee Dee Myers had such problems in the Clinton White House. Later, as a West Wing consultant, "I got to take things that happened to me and change the ending a bit."

In one episode, C.J. realizes she knows less about an issue than the reporters questioning her, and confronts the president. In another, C.J. has a root canal and Josh Lyman, the deputy chief of staff, substitutes at the daily briefing. "He makes a total hash of it" and creates an economic crisis, Myers says cheerfully.

Revenge? "Absolutely," she says.

"Is 'West Wing' idealistic or realistic?"
by Jill Lawrence
May 10, 2006
USA Today

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