Life Imitates Art?

Is the Barack Obama U.S. presidential campaign retyping old West Wing scripts? Saw this over at Denis McGrath’s Dead Things ON Sticks today:

You can read McGrath’s take on this here. The Slate video cleverly juxtaposes the real and imagined campaigns but the underdog, outsider bid by Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) wasn’t that much of a creative stretch and the parallels are more about rhetoric and style than substance. There was no Hillary in The West Wing script, for example, just a weak VP character as a Democratic rival (played by Gary Cole). There was, however, a charismatic minority candidate riding a desire for hope and change into battle against a Republican who was a little too Red for many Republicans.
Those street scenes of Santos on the hustings, by the way, were shot up in Stouffville, Ont. Smits and the extras were standing outside the “Fickle Pickle” bar in Stouffville. I interviewed Smits that December day back in 2004 when The West Wing came north to shoot their presidential primary scenes in and around Southern Ontario. You can read that interview, plus a sidebar where co-star Bradley Whitford rips into George Bush (then newly re-elected to a second term) here.
Interesting to note, too, that the original West Wing scripts called for the Republican candidate, California Senator Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda), to win the fake TV election. The writers changed the outcome after West Wing star John Spencer, who played Smit’s fictional vice presidential candidate, died suddenly in the run up to the election episodes.

One Response to “Life Imitates Art?”

  1. Actually art was imitating life – the Santos storyline was inspired by a pre-presidential candidate Barack Obama – so says former West Wing writer (current House writer) Eli Attie. It’s still cool that he’s fulfilling the promise they saw in him then.

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