Saturday, February 23, 2008

From "West Wing" to the Real Thing?

In case you think there's a kind of a Hollywood feel to the Barack Obama campaign, you're not crazy. From the Guardian:
Devotees of the West Wing have been talking about it for weeks: the uncanny similarity between the fictional presidential contest that dominated the final seasons of the acclaimed TV show and the real-life drama of this year's election.

For what those West Wing fans stunned by the similarity between the fictitious Matthew Santos and the real-life Barack Obama have not known is that the resemblance is no coincidence. When the West Wing scriptwriters first devised their fictitious presidential candidate in the late summer of 2004, they modelled him in part on a young Illinois politician - not yet even a US senator - by the name of Barack Obama.

"I drew inspiration from him in drawing this character," West Wing writer and producer Eli Attie told the Guardian. "When I had to write, Obama was just appearing on the national scene. He had done a great speech at the convention [which nominated John Kerry] and people were beginning to talk about him."

Attie, who served as chief speechwriter to Al Gore during the ill-fated 2000 campaign and who wrote many of the key Santos episodes of the West Wing, put in a call to Obama aide David Axelrod.

The scriptwriter also borrowed from Obama's life the notion of a superstar candidate. "After that convention speech, Obama's life changed. He was mobbed wherever he went. He was more than a candidate seeking votes: people were seeking him. Some of Santos's celebrity aura came from that."

The result is a bizarre case of art imitating life - only for life to imitate art back again.
Damn, I hate when that happens ....

H/t to Cootamundra, again.


Mauigirl said...

This was really interesting, I hadn't been a West Wing watcher so wasn't aware of this.

I'll have to ask my mom about this, she is a real West Wing fan and still watches it in reruns. And she's a Hillary supporter so she will have an interesting perspective!

Sue J said...

I bet your Mom will have something to say about it!