Just before 10:30pm last night, while we were texting back and forth during Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC, Duana messaged me a link, prefaced with “I’m sending you something you’re going to hate me for”. It was Aaron Sorkin’s Reddit AMA. Sorkin has a gift. He can induce rage. The kind that keeps you up half the night.
Anyway, there was, as expected, a lot of snark from some of the commenters. Again, this is Aaron Sorkin. But there was a LOT of love for The West Wing. I have a LOT of love for The West Wing. One of my favourite episodes of The West Wing is from Season 4. God, I lived for Season 4. It’s the first episode (a two-parter) of the season (fun fact: Amy Adams was in it), called 20 Hours In America. Toby, Josh, and Donna are separated from the rest of the team. Sam has to staff the President. All kinds of sh-t is happening and the worst of it is that two bombs have gone off at a university swim meet. President Barlet has to give a speech that night.
Remember that speech? “The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels tonight.” It’s a line Sorkin took from Tom Hanks’s Oscar acceptance speech for Philadelphia. Earlier in the episode, Sam observes that “good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright".
Anyway, the speech ends with the President declaring that “this is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars”. It’s poignant, it’s powerful, people are moved. Then Bruno asks Sam, who was responsible for the speech, when he wrote the last part. Sam tells him he wrote it in the car. Bruno side-eyes Sam, “Freak”.
The ultimate compliment, obviously. And, I imagine, what every speechwriter, or any writer, wants to hear. I wanted to be Sam so bad. I wanted to be part of that team so bad. Even though it was a TV show, I wanted to believe that that’s what the work was like – bouncing baseballs off the wall to come up with ideas, walking up and down the halls talking about lunch and legislation, being stressed all the time and never sleeping, and making it look like so much fun.
So, of course, of course when Jon Favreau, the sort of real life Sam Seaborn (how Sorkin sees himself when he closes his eyes or maybe not even when he closes his eyes) wrote about What Goes Into A Great Convention Speech yesterday, I was all over it.
Did you know that Joshua Malina, recruited by Rob Lowe’s Sam Seaborn, does a weekly podcast called The West Wing Weekly? I’ve not listened yet because I need to nerd out on homework first and watch each episode before listening. Am thinking of starting this weekend. Let me know if you’ve started already and your thoughts.
Yours in gossip,