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Old November 5th, 2005, 09:20 PM   #1
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"West Wing" Live

For those of you who think television can be more than a "box
filled with wires and tubes," I hope you will check out the live
broadcast of "West Wing" tonight (Sunday) at 8 O'clock on NBC. (We will
do two broadcasts, so both the East coast and West coast feeds
will indeed be "live") The story is actually a live
presidential debate between the two candidates, played by
Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda.

But the real star of the show is the excellent script by Lawrence
O'Donnell, which goes places no real debate has visited in
recent history. Oh, that we could actually have such a debate
between our candidates.

I think you will find the hour well worth your time. And if you have
any questions about the live broadcast, I'll try to answer them.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old November 5th, 2005, 09:41 PM   #2
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I've been looking forward to this episode for weeks........

One of these "Must See TV" shows IMO......

Wayne, what do you expect the differences in the 2 different versions will there be? Do the 2 scripts vary?
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Old November 6th, 2005, 11:43 PM   #3
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Imagine my surprise. Have been a huge fan of West Wing for the past year (bought all available seasons). Awesome stuff!
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Old November 7th, 2005, 09:49 AM   #4
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I watched a little of it from my hotel (am in California at the moment with a show) and I thought it was very well done. But I have to admit I've never "gotten into" this show for some reason. So in spite of the high production values, in this case I switched it off because I've had way too much of *real* candidates talking; the last thing I wanted to see was a couple make-believe candidates having a debate! ;-)
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Old November 7th, 2005, 10:06 AM   #5
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Wayne,

Very cool... I caught it last night. What do you do with the show? I enjoyed it. I haven't been following the show this season just because of time, but I do like the live gimmick so I made a point of watching this one. The debate was good. I had kinda hoped that we would get some of the back-room stuff also... a hour is a bit long for even the most compelling of fictional debates.

So did the actor have teleprompters at all? Notes on stage? or did they memorize the wholr thing? Or wing it?

Jimmy Smits flubbed a few lines there, and I haven't watched enough of him to know is that was in character or not. I thought both actors read as a little less confident than we are used to seeing them, and that makes sense. I would be very interested in seeing the West Coast version to see if they warmed up to it.

Great job overall.
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Old November 10th, 2005, 03:46 PM   #6
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Glad you enjoyed the show, Barry. It did quite well in the ratings, so hopefully people enjoyed the presentation. To answer your questions:

I was one of eight camera operators on the show. There were ten cameras used; two were on Steadicams for the opening sequence, which was shot in 24P, and they switched to 30i as the camera panned across a tv monitor, revealing the debate set (which happened to be one of my shots). One of the Steadicam operators, Chad Persons, was the regular Steadicam op on "The West Wing." This was his first "live" tv expericence, and you can bet he had butterflies in his stomach. But he did a fine job, and operated a hand-held camera later in the show. You may have seen the inadvertent whip pan he did; that was an . they gave him an "extra" shot on the East Coast version that was corrected in the West Coast telecast.

There were telepromptors, but the actors tried to avoid them as much as possible. They were a "safety net," which is not unusual in such a wordy production. A real challenge for the actors, who did a great job overall. As you noticed, Jimmy Smits was tight, but he really came through, and the West Coast show was even better. Usually there is a let-down in the second show, but both actors were hummin' in the second show this time. Alan Alda was so excited about the show that he said he wants to "take it on the road."

The show's writer, Lawrence O'Donnell, was ecstatic about the performances, as was everyone.

Great fun, and a quality show.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old November 10th, 2005, 03:59 PM   #7
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Wayne,

Great, nice shooting. Yeah, I liked the steadycam shots. I did get that whip pan, figured it was the switchers error though, not his :).

I think overall you guys did a great job on making it look like the real thing. Did you have any staff from the actual debates - camera, production design - working with you on that?

Some of the cameramen got face time... do they get residuals for that?
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Old November 10th, 2005, 07:03 PM   #8
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Actually, Barry, they just studied tapes of real debates to get the overall feel for what they are like. And a lot of the tv crew have worked on various similar live events, so they gave the production input on "keepin' it real".

I don't believe any of the tech crew put in for "on-camera" appearance monies. If they are not choreographed, we usually let it go, but this summer I shot a video camera for the upcoming feature, "American Dreamz," and I got placed in the shot almost everyday, so yes, I did insist on a bump for that. It's a "background player" rate of about $65.00 a day, on top of my operator's rate. If I wasn't me, ey would have to pay a bg player the money, so it's fair for me to ask for that money, and it was never a problem with the production company.

Watch for "American Dreamz," starring Dennis Quaid and Hugh Grant, which pokes fun at the "American Idol" genre and a number of sacred cows. I think it will be out in February.

Wayne
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Old November 10th, 2005, 07:03 PM   #9
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Actually, Barry, they just studied tapes of real debates to get the overall feel for what they are like. And a lot of the tv crew have worked on various similar live events, so they gave the production input on "keepin' it real".

I don't believe any of the tech crew put in for "on-camera" appearance monies. If they are not choreographed, we usually let it go, but this summer I shot a video camera for the upcoming feature, "American Dreamz," and I got placed in the shot almost everyday, so yes, I did insist on a bump for that. It's a "background player" rate of about $65.00 a day, on top of my operator's rate. If I wasn't me, ey would have to pay a bg player the money, so it's fair for me to ask for that money, and it was never a problem with the production company.

Watch for "American Dreamz," starring Dennis Quaid and Hugh Grant, which pokes fun at the "American Idol" genre and a number of sacred cows. I think it will be out in February.

Wayne
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