Don't ever forget that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world, it's the only thing that ever has.
Decisions are made by those who show up.
Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright.
It seems to me that more and more we've come to expect less and less from each other, and I think that should change.
Any time you get two people in a room who disagree about anything, the time of day, there is a scene to be written. That's what I look for.
Trying to guess what the (mass) audience wants and then trying to satisfy that is usually a bad recipe for getting something good.
It's a combination of life being unpredictable, and you being super dumb.
Toby Zeigler: There's literally no one in the world I don't hate right now.
And my friends, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
I grew up in the theatre. It's where I got my start. Writing a television drama with theatrical dialogue about the theatre is beyond perfection.
It's nice that HBO is in business with the audience and not with the advertisers. There's a difference.
Toby: All right. It couldn't have gone far, right? Sam: No. Toby: Somewhere in this building...is our talent.
It's important to remember that, first and foremost, if not only, this is entertainment. "The West Wing" isn't meant to be good for you.
It's populated by people who, by and large, have terrific communication skills.
Every day is an extraordinary day. For me, it was just a great area for storytelling.
You know, one of the things I like about this world, or at least I like about the way we're presenting this world, is these issues are terribly complicated - not nearly as black and white as we're led to believe.
More than any time in recent history, America's destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek nor did we provoke an assault on our freedom and our way of life. We did not expect nor did we invite a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people's strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arive...The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars...
Certainly, last year we did an episode about the census and sampling versus a direct statistic. You just said the word "census," and people fall asleep.
Mrs. Landingham, does the President have free time this morning? The President has nothing but free time, Toby. Right now he's in the residence eating Cheerios and enjoying Regis and Kathie Lee. Should I get him for you? Sarcasm's a disturbing thing coming from a woman of your age, Mrs. Landingham. What age would that be, Toby? Late twenties? Atta boy.
Our responsibility is to captivate you for however long we've asked for your attention. That said, there is tremendous drama to be gotten from the great, what you would say, heavy issues.
There are some screw-ups headed your way.
I wish I could tell you that there was a trick to avoiding the screw-ups... but they're coming for ya. It's a combination of life being unpredictable, and you being super dumb.
Margaret: Can I - can I just say something for the future? Leo: Yeah.
Margaret: I can sign the President's name. I have his signature down pretty good. Leo: You can sign the President's name? Margaret: Yeah. Leo: On a document removing him from power and handing it to someone else? Margaret: Yeah! Or... do you think the White House Counsel would say that was a bad idea? Leo: I think the White House Counsel would say it was a coup d'etat! Margaret: Well. I'd probably end up doing some time for that. Leo: I would think. And what the hell were you doing practicing the President's signature? Margaret: It was just for fun.
Well, I must tell you I write the scripts very close to the bone.
So I'm writing episode seven now and couldn't tell you what happens in episode eight.
There's a great tradition in storytelling that's thousands of years old, telling stories about kings and their palaces, and that's really what I wanted to do.
There really isn't a story that you can't tell inside of it.
It's very much a clearinghouse for anything that goes on in the world. So you're not at all limited.
A news organization has a much different responsibility.
I might not be telling you the whole story. I might not be telling you a story in a manner that is properly sophisticated.
President Bartlet: There's a delegation of cardiologists having their pictures taken in the Blue Room. You wouldn't think you could find a group of people more arrogant than the fifteen of us, but there they are, right upstairs in the Blue Room.
But HBO is less interested in how many people are watching than in how much the people who are watching are liking the show. They didn't set up their business model to make writers happy. It's just a nice unintended consequence.
We're about to shoot an episode on Air Force One, for instance, and we're going to take liberties, small liberties, with Air Force One, as we take small liberties with our White House set.