Tonight's documentary-style episode of The West Wing features interviews with real-life White House insiders. George Bush the 41st prez and daddy of Dubya isn't one of them. "George Bush Sr. said no to us," reveals exec producer Thomas Schlamme. "In all fairness to President Bush, none of the presidents jumped on quickly justifiably so."
According to Schlamme, the ex-commanders-in-chief all echoed similar concerns: "'What's this about? Who else is doing it?' We asked [Bush] early on, and then we were able to get Presidents Carter and Clinton and then Ford." After racking up those nifty A-listers, the show didn't bother to push for Bush. Schlamme insists this was due to time constraints, "not because our feelings were hurt" about Bush's initial refusal.
Hopefully, this turns out better than West Wing's last reality-based episode, "Isaac and Ishmael." That post-Sept. 11 outing was widely viewed as a crock of overly preachy, liberal blustering on creator Aaron Sorkin's part.
Clearly aware it was "critically blasted," Schlamme downplays the episode's significance: "It was not, 'This is what we need to say.' We can remember the absolute visceral feeling that we all had those two weeks after Sept. 11 that episode was a product of those feelings. George W. Bush becoming president instead of Al Gore doesn't affect the show at all. But the pain of the nation and the pain that we all felt does affect the show a little bit. So it took awhile for us to find our sea legs."