I know it’s not quite Thursday, but tomorrow will be taken up with report on my gliding adventure!
Today, my sisters and brothers, I want to introduce you to the brilliance that is The West Wing, by simply giving you the script of the Teaser (that bit just before the main titles). I’ve mentioned this brilliant and very sadly defunked show on this site before, but it deserves all the attention it can get. Aaron Sorkin (writer / creator) is brilliant, just brilliant.
The West Wing takes place in a fictional White House, with all the trials and tribuations thereof. However, it is written so damn brilliantly, and performed to perfection, which makes it a very worth includee in Kulcha Tursdy.
Thanks to White House Communication Office for the transcript excerpt.
For your reading pleasure, characters appearing below are as follows:-
Josh Lyman – Deputy Chief of Staff
Sam Seabourne – Deputy Communications Director
Donna – Josh’s PA
CJ Cregg – White House Press Secretary
Carol – CJ’s PA
Ed – White House Staffer
Larry – White House Staffer
Ginger – Communications Office PA
Charlie – President’s PA
THE WEST WING
EPISODE: “THE LEADERSHIP BREAKFAST”
WRITTEN BY: PAUL REDFORD, DIRECTED BY: SCOTT WINANT
DONNA [VO]:We don’t need some kind of permission for this?
DONNA [VO]:What about supervision, shouldn’t there be some official supervision?
FADE IN: INT. THE MURAL ROOM – NIGHT
Sam and Josh are bending over a fireplace. All three are bundled up in heavy coats, and
Donna is wearing a winter hat.
JOSH: We’re making a fire in a fireplace, what kind of supervision do you want?
DONNA: FEMA? The American Red Cross?
SAM: What kind of wood is this?
JOSH: [sighs] I don’t know.
JOSH: It’s freezing in here.
DONNA: I acknowledge that it’s cold.
JOSH: It’s like Ice Station Zebra.
DONNA: It also might bother someone.
JOSH: It’s half past midnight!
SAM:See, here’s the thing. This looks like spruce to me.
SAM: And spruce is a softwood, softwood burns out quickly. You know what we need for a slow burning fire?
JOSH: A hardwood?
SAM: That’s right.
JOSH: That’s interesting.
DONNA: Where did you get the wood?
JOSH: It was sitting in… the thing. [points across the room]
DONNA: I think that is meant to be decorative…
JOSH: It’s wood, we’re not burning Benjamin Harrison’s log cabin.
SAM: You know what?
SAM: We might be.
SAM: It was made out of spruce.
JOSH: [to Donna] Where’s C.J.?
DONNA: She’s over in the Roosevelt Room.
JOSH: Is she doing the seating chart?
JOSH: Jancowitz has a hearing aid that seldom works, he needs to be seated near the center. Would you tell her that?
DONNA: Yeah. [beat] You’re not using lighter fluid or anything are you?
JOSH: No… no flammable liquids of any kind to start a fire, ever.
Donna starts to leave when Sam re-enters carrying a kerosene lamp.
SAM: Found it!
DONNA: [whips around] Josh…
CUT TO: INT. THE ROOSEVELT ROOM – NIGHT
C.J., Carol, Ed, Larry, and some other staffers are standing around a large seating chart for the leadership breakfast. They are all in heavy coats and many are holding steaming coffee, including C.J. who is wearing gloves. C.J. is walking around the board, placing and pointing to stands, which hold handwritten cards.
C.J.: Speaker [places stand], House Majority [places stand], House Minority, Senate Majority,
Senate Minority, Whip, Whip, Deputy, Deputy.
ED:The committee chairs.
ED:Ways and Means goes here.
LARRY:Finance goes here, House Appropriations goes here.
ED:Senate Appropriations here, House Budget…
ED:Which brings us to…
CAROL:White House staff.
ED:That’s right. So, we’ve got the Chief of Staff.
LARRY:Next to him will be the Deputy Chief of Staff. On the other side of Leo will be the Congressional Liaison, and the Political Liaison.
ED:Next to them will be the Communications Director and the Deputy Communications Director.
C.J.:What about staff aides?
ED:The aides will stand around the wall.
C.J.:So we’re done?
C.J.:Don’t give me a thing.
DONNA:Josh says Jancowitz has to sit closer to the center.
DONNA:He doesn’t hear well.
C.J.:He can’t sit closer to the center!
DONNA:His hearing aid malfunctions.
C.J.:Who cares? [beat] It’s a breakfast to trumpet a new spirit of bi-partisanship cooperation and understanding in a new year, no ones going to be listening to each other anyway!
DONNA: I’m just a messenger but I think he’s saying we don’t snub Jancowitz…
C.J.: Because of the thing…
C.J.:All right, we’re gonna have to move somebody. Would you ask him if it’s better to dis the House Whip or the Senate Whip?
CUT TO: INT. THE MURAL ROOM – NIGHT
Josh and Sam are still working in front of the fireplace.
JOSH: You want to stand them in a tripod right?
SAM: Yeah, standing 3 sticks on an end and slanting them to a common center.
JOSH: Isn’t that a tripod?
SAM: Yeah, but…
JOSH:You just thought you’d say more words.
JOSH:Hang on. [to Sam] You know what we need?
JOSH:We need dried leaves.
DONNA:To move Jancowitz, we’ve got to move either the House or Senate Whip.
JOSH and SAM: House.
SAM:‘Cause life is tough in the big cruel world, and if he doesn’t like it, he can kiss me!
DONNA:So, the spirit of bi-partisanship begins!
JOSH:Could you possible get us some dried leaves?
DONNA:Yeah, I’ll just run out to the forest and be right back. [leaves]
SAM:You know what?
JOSH:You think she was being sarcastic?
SAM:Yeah, I don’t think she’s getting the leaves.
JOSH:You know what we could use?
JOSH:See, this is what I’m talking about, this is teamwork!
SAM:It really is!
CUT TO: INT. THE ROOSEVELT ROOM – NIGHT
DONNA: [enters] House.
C.J.:So, we’ll move the House Whip to the left of Sam and move Jancowitz across from Leo and we’re all set right?
C.J.: Larry, Ed we’re set? [beat] Either one of you?
C.J.:Thank you, you see, you guys thought it was going to take a long time and it only ended up taking 7 and a half hours.
TOBY: [enters] Somebody working on the heat?
C.J.:Seating arrangement is set.
TOBY:That took some time. [looking at seating plan]
C.J.:It was hard.
TOBY:You got to find a magic marker.
C.J.:Toby, when people are sitting with the President, there’s excruciating protocol involved.
TOBY:Take a look.
C.J. and the others bend over the table looking.
TOBY: It’ll happen.
C.J.:Okay, guys. You know what we did? We forgot the President.
TOBY:[holding up card holder off to side of the board] There it is!
GINGER:[enters] Does anybody smell smoke?
DONNA: Oh God! [leaves quickly]
CUT TO: INT. THE MURAL ROOM – NIGHT
Josh and Sam are backing away from the fireplace in a cloud of smoke. Josh coughs.
SAM:I think this might be because the wood is wet.
JOSH:Well, the fire ought to dry it pretty quick shouldn’t it?
DONNA:[rushes in] What’d you do?!
JOSH: It’s going pretty good now.
DONNA:There’s smoke in the hallways!
Toby and C.J. enter.
TOBY: What the hell is going on?
JOSH: The wood’s drying out.
C.J.: Are you burning a dining room table?!
JOSH: Spruce is a slow drying wood.
TOBY: Do you have any idea whet you’re talking about?
SAM: Hang on. [reads a small plaque on the wall next to the fireplace]
C.J.: Are those instructions?
SAM: It says this fireplace was a favor to President Andrew Johnson and he would sip whiskey from a charcoal keg while reading by its light.
JOSH: That doesn’t help.
SAM: The flue’s been welded shut since 1896.
JOSH: Well that’s probably it then.
CHARLIE: [enters] What are you doing?!
JOSH: Somebody started a fire in this fireplace, Charlie.
CHARLIE: If the smoke alarms go off, they’re going to make me wake up the President!
SAM: The President’s a thousand yards over and two flights up.
CHARLIE: It’s Secret Service procedure.
JOSH: Well, let’s get a fire extinguisher and put it out before the smoke alar…
Smoke alarms begin to blare. All the staffers look at each other, and C.J. covers her ears.
CUT TO: INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE THE PRESIDENTIAL BEDROOM – NIGHT
The door flies open to reveal a very unhappy Bartlet.
CHARLIE: Mr. President, you know how you told me not to wake you up unless the building was on fire?
SMASH CUT TO: MAIN TITLES.