An Evening with the Hollywood Stars


You may have been one of the avid viewers watching the popular television show which showed the Kashmir border powder keg becoming more explosive when the Indian Army invaded Pakistani-held territory, making the threat of a nuclear confrontation frighteningly real to US President Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen) who calls in Lord Marbury (played by Roger Rees), an eccentric British diplomat with ties to both warring nations and a weakness for booze.  Well, I was referring to the favorite television hit show ‘West Wing’ and the two episodes featuring the India-Pakistan ‘war’ that was televised in January.

Josh Singer – Writer of the West Wing show

The West Wing is an American television serial drama created by Aaron Sorkin that was originally broadcast from 1999 to 2006. The series was set in the West Wing of the White House, the location of the Oval Office and offices of presidential senior staff, during the fictional Democratic administration of Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen). The West Wing won two Golden Globe Awards and 26 Emmy Awards.. Included in this record-equalling haul were four straight awards for Outstanding Drama Series (2000?2003).

On Thursday, I was invited to a special event attended by the hollywood stars and cast members of the West Wing who were there to talk about the ‘Making of the West Wing‘ and its impact on the American audience. Some of the stars who were present at the event included Actress Melissa Fitzgerald (who also acted in Grey’s Anatomy), Actress Nicole Robinson (who also acted in Friends, The New Adventures of Superman) , Lew Wells- Co-Executive Producer, Josh Singer- Writer and Craig Synden. Actor Bradley Whitford (who has acted in several hollywood movies and TV shows – Philadelphia, NYPD Blue, Malcolm in the Middle and many others) joined us via satellite.

Actress Nicole Robinson

I got a chance to talk to the Stars and get a good perspective on the making of the West Wing show. Craig Snyden talked about how the show covered a lot of hot button issues such as social security, the mass genocide in Darfur-Sudan, the Middle East crisis etc. He emphasized that the show raised awareness among the American public about these issues although the show was intended to be fiction and not the real politics. Josh Singer talked about how they had a number of ex – White House officials including Dee Dee Meyers (White House Press Secretary 92 – 94), Ambassador Dennis Ross (who served under President Clinton and President George H.W. Bush) serving as consultants as they tried to re-create a lot of actual events including the shooting down of a Iranian commercial airline  by the US Warship that was enroute to Dubai in 1988.

An interesting question was posed by Greg Coy who is a senior reporter for "CN8 News.’ He quizzed the producer and writer of the show as to why there were no many African Americans and minorities among the West Wing cast? Lew Wells replied that they had made an attempt to define roles for minorities but admitted that more needs to be done in this area.

Actress Melissa Fitzgerald

Actor Bradley Whitford was asked as to which current candidate among the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations looked "PRESIDENTIAL." A very jovial Bradley replied," In my opinion none of the current candidates looks Presidential, but Martin Sheen who played the US President in the West Wing, looks more Presidential than any of the actual current candidates."

I talked to Actress Melissa Fitzgerald about her efforts in Norther Uganda. She has been involved in lobbying Congress in an effort to end Africa’s longest-running war: the 20-year conflict in northern Uganda. In the spring of 2006, Fitzgerald traveled to Northern Uganda to work with malnourished children in displacement camps.

The West Wing, though a television program has had a profound effect on the American public and audiences around the world (it has been televised in around 19 countries). The  show highlighted a number of issues -post 9/11 including the India/Pakistan conflict. It was a privilege to meet these succesful hollywood stars and cast of the West Wing and they encouraged me to take more activite participation in current issues that are important to all of us living in America.

About The Author

""Brian Santhumayor of Nanthoor, Mangalore, has a Bachelors Degree in Engineering and MBA in Marketing and works as an Account Manager for an enterprise software firm in Manhattan. He actively writes articles on US Foreign Policy, UN and World Affairs. He volunteers by fundraising for numerous non-profit organizations including the American India foundation run by President Bill Clinton and has won numerous awards for his charitable efforts.

Author: Brian Santhumayor- USA