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October 4, 2015

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Aaron Sorkin pays tribute to Ron Silver

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 20th 2009 5:03PM
Ron SilverIt's still odd to think about Ron Silver, who died of cancer earlier this week, being gone. I mean, sure, cancer can hit anyone at any age, but it's odd to see it happen to someone in a fairly recent show, and one that I watch a lot of (thank you, DVD sets). I felt the same thing when another West Wing cast member, John Spencer, died a few years back. That was even more shocking because he was still on the show at the time.

West Wing creator/writer Aaron Sorkin pays tribute to Silver in Time. He says that Silver was not only the type of actor who was very generous ("someone who's there for the piece and not for himself"), but one that would make the other actors laugh and get into a good mood between takes.

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The West Wing: Shibboleth

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 26th 2008 1:01PM
(Originally aired November 22, 2000)

Last year I picked The West Wing's "The Indians in the Lobby" episode as a standout episode of the series. It just so happens that we're blessed with two Thanksgiving episodes of the show that are standouts. This one is called "Shibboleth."

The plots: While President Bartlet has to figure out what to do with dozens of Chinese immigrants who have stowed away on a freighter, Toby tries to get Leo's controversial sister nominated for an education post, C.J. has to pick one of two turkeys who will get to be pardoned by the President, and Charlie goes shopping for the perfect carving knife for the President.

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12 unexpected deaths of TV personalities

by Richard Keller, posted Jun 17th 2008 11:58AM

The death of Jim Henson rocked the emotions of people who didn't even know him.I didn't know Tim Russert on a personal level. I rarely even saw him in his own element as host of NBC's Meet the Press. However, when he suddenly died last Friday, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the fact that he was a huge presence on television, particularly during this year's Presidential election. It made Russert feel like he was a part of the family.

So it has been with many television personalities that have left this earth before their time. It's the intimacy of the industry and the fact that this person has come into our homes night after night, week after week, that the unexpected death of these personalities hits us much harder than, say, movie stars. Unfortunately, there have been a number of these surprising deaths over the last few decades. Here are 12 such deaths that affected millions of television viewers.

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The West Wing: The Indians in the Lobby

by Bob Sassone, posted Nov 14th 2007 11:25AM

TV Squad's Standout Episodes"The Indians in the Lobby"
Originally aired on November 21, 2001

There are so many ridiculously great episodes of The West Wing, trying to pick one out is like trying to pick out the best note in a piece by Mozart. But since it's November, I figured I'd choose the best of the show's Thanksgiving Day episodes, "The Indians in the Lobby" (and yes, fans of "Shibboleth," I love that one too, but this one has just a little bit more.)

It's Thanksgiving, and President Bartlet is making the stuffing ...

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Richard Schiff reveals more about what happened to The West Wing

by Bob Sassone, posted Feb 8th 2007 4:41PM

Richard Schiff, Sheila KelleyWe've said it here a million times (and by "we" I'm including TV Squad readers): Toby would never have leaked classified information the way he did in the last season of The West Wing. And in the off chance that he did, it would only be because he was covering for someone else. Now, Richard Schiff (in the pic on the right with his wife, actress Sheila Kelley) says he agrees (this is an addendum to an article from last year).

In an interesting interview in The Independent, Schiff says that he felt let down by the writers in the last season, and in fact to get through it he actually made a fictional plot in his head as to why Toby was acting the way that he was.

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Top TV Stories of 2006: People we've lost

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 1st 2007 1:29PM

Don Knotts(Part 1 of 5) It's the time of year when we talk about what happened over the past year, and that unfortunately includes the deaths of many notable personalities. After the jump is a list of the celebrities and other TV-related people we lost in 2006, in no particular order. (Note: it's not easy to compile a list like this and I'm sure I forgot someone. Let me know in the comments and I'll try to add them.)

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DVD Review: The West Wing - The Complete Series

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 4th 2006 8:33AM
West Wing complete seriesI was trying to figure out how to review this set. Should I even mention how great the series is (brilliant cast, brilliant writing, brilliant direction, blah, blah, blah)? And then I figured, no, I'm not going to review certain episodes or the series as a whole. Everyone knows how good the show was, and if you're a fan you already know all that stuff, so you really want to know how the rest of the set is and if it's worth upgrading from the individual sets to this new set.

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West Wing complete series DVD set coming this fall

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 27th 2006 9:32AM

West Wing - The Complete SeriesWell, I know what I'm giving myself for Christmas this year.

Warner will release The West Wing: The Complete Series on DVD November 7. The set will include every single episode of the series (154 episodes) on 45 discs. The set will contain the same sets as the individual sets already released, but will also include a copy of the pilot script, including a special intro by creator/head writer Aaron Sorkin. The set will sell for around $300.

The set for the last season will also be released that day, separately, with bonus materials.

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The West Wing: Tomorrow (series finale)

by Bob Sassone, posted May 14th 2006 9:10PM
West Wing(S07E22) Was anyone else struck by the differences between the pilot episode of The West Wing (shown tonight before the finale) and the episodes from the past couple of years, including this one? Such a different vibe. So much energy and passion and great writing (not to mention inspirational music and romanticism) in the pilot, compared to the last couple of years of so-so writing, dark camera work, bad changes in characters (although this season was a comeback). I would have rather have seen a retrospective, but it was interesting to see how the show began and how it will end.

The series finale got so many things right and also a few things wrong. Let's talk about them.

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A look back at The West Wing: Entertainment Weekly in 60 seconds

by Bob Sassone, posted May 7th 2006 2:54PM
  • Helen Hunt, Paul ReiserNBC might have canceled its West Wing retrospective for next Sunday, but EW gathers the cast and crew and goes down memory lane. Among the tidbits: Sidney Poitier was the first person talked about to play the President; producers offered Bradley Whitford the role of Sam, but he wanted to play Josh; John Spencer was the first person cast, but Sorkin had originally seen Judd Hirsch as Leo and had to rewrite the character for Spencer; Eugene Levy auditioned to play Toby; CCH Pounder auditioned to play C.J., as did Janel Moloney; and NBC bought the West Wing only if John Wells agreed to also do Third Watch.
  • Paris Bennett says "Don't be sad."
  • Gillian Flynn answers the question: what is the worst show to have a long run?
  • New DVDs: they give a B+ to the first and second season DVD set of The Facts of Life, and an A- for the Scrubs third season set.
  • Funny review of 7th Heaven by Ken Tucker, calling the series finale flashback "creepy."
  • Bruce Campbell gives a guest review of Supernatural. He says it's fun, but it's scare factor is too conservative and the lead actors pose too much.
  • A look at the new Lost tie-in book, Bad Twin.

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Bradley Whitford: The TV Squad Interview

by Bob Sassone, posted May 5th 2006 11:15AM
Bradley WhitfordI always cringe a bit when I interview a celebrity whose work I admire. I'm always afraid that they're going to turn out to be a jerk, or they hate me for some reason, or I'll find out they're into terrible things, like torturing puppies or watching Wife Swap. Thankfully, I've only found out once in twenty years that a celebrity I loved on the screen was a really terrible person (and no, I'm not going to tell you who it is). My lucky streak continues with Bradley Whitford, ex-Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman on The West Wing, guest star on one of ER's best episodes ("Love's Labor Lost"), guest star on most TV shows since the mid 80s, and star of Aaron Sorkin"s new fall series, Studio 60. Whitford is an extremely nice, friendly, classy guy, I'm happy to report.

And I found out that Bradley Whitford is a lot like Josh Lyman, except for ... well, I'll let him explain that.

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Who was the sixth pallbearer at Leo's funeral?

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 17th 2006 3:49PM
West WingThis question has been asked a couple of times here, in the comments for my latest West Wing review and in an earlier post I believe. Who was that sixth pallbearer at Leo's funeral? There was the President, Josh, Charlie, Santos, the DNC guy, and in the back a guy with short light hair.

Anyone know who he was? Really odd that they didn't have another regular cast member to be a pallbearer.

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The West Wing: Requiem

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 16th 2006 9:59PM
West Wing(S07E18) Now this was the type of episode longtime West Wing viewers were hoping for. If you had asked me what should happen in the Leo's funeral episode and who should be in the episode, this is what I would have done. The montage at the beginning of the episode showed everyone getting ready for the funeral - President Barlet, Josh, Toby, C.J., Donna, etc - and then showed all of the people at the church. Sure, it was jarring not to have Sam there (Rob Lowe isn't back yet), but you really can't complain when you have Mallory, Nancy McNally, Carol, Margaret, Hoynes, Russell, Joey Lucas, Danny and everyone else. Nice touch having Toby stay in the church til everyone leaves and Charlie offering to walk out with him.

I was a little afraid they'd rush though the Leo memories and shove in the whole Santos plot, but that didn't happen. You had to show what was going on with the Santos plot (life does go on after all), and it was a nice balance of the old and the new.

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How does President Vinick sound?

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 10th 2006 5:18PM
Alan AldaThat's the revelation in The New York Times today, that Arnold Vinick was supposed to win the election last night on The West Wing, but after the death of John Spencer, they decided to have Matt Santos win the election, thinking that fans wouldn't want to see Santos lose both his running mate and the election.

Some other tidbits from the article: the cast filmed their last scenes together on March 31, the last episode will be broadcast on May 14, and Martin Sheen is going back to college (at age 65)!

Let the debate begin, readers. Would you have rather have seen a Vinick win, regardless of how or why that happened, or did The West Wing have to end with a Democratic victory?

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The West Wing: Election Day, Part II

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 9th 2006 9:22PM
John Spencer(S07E17) This must have been the hardest episode for the cast to film. How do you even go about filming the onscreen death of a beloved character when the equally beloved castmate also died in real life?

NBC is fond of calling their comedies "Must See TV." But this was truly the one must see episode of any NBC show in quite a while. Leo dies, and the election goes down to the wire, all in one episode. Must see, but not handled as well as it could have been. Some good scenes with Josh, and some nice moments in the White House between Bartlett and C.J., but they really should have given Margaret more to do, get more of a reaction from her besides one shot of stoic tears.

And...no Toby?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

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