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SURPRISE! DEMOCRAT WINS 'WEST WING' PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION!
Sun Apr 09 2006 18:11:08 ET
The presidential election depicted Sunday night on NBC's 'WEST WING' would have had a different ending had it been held four months earlier.
The reversal of fortune for Matt Santos -- the Democratic nominee, played by Jimmy Smits, who was the victor -- had nothing to do with any shift in opinion among voters or a liberal ideology of the show's writers and producers.
Instead, Lawrence O'Donnell, an executive producer of the show, said he and his fellow writers had declared Santos the winner only after the death, in mid-December, of John Spencer, who portrayed Santos' running mate.
At the time of Spencer's death, the plot for Sunday night's episode had been set: The election was to be won by Alan Alda's Arnold Vinick, a maverick Republican (modeled a bit on Sen. John McCain), whom many Democrats (including the Democrats who write the show) could learn to love.
But after Spencer died, O'Donnell said in a recent interview, he and his colleagues began to confront a creative dilemma: Would viewers be saddened to see Smits' character lose both his running mate and the election? The writers decided that such an outcome would prove too lopsided, in terms of taxing viewers' emotions, NYT reporter Jacques Steinberg will claim on Monday.
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