Live Interview with John Spencer from 8-17-2000
The death of John Spencer, best known as the actor Leo McGarry on "The West Wing," came as a shock to everyone who wasn't familiar with his medical problems.
I was honored to host his "appearance" on the old CNN News Chat, with visitors to the chat room from all over the world. John took live questions and gave live answers that were typed in immediately. CNN never should have ended its Chat rooms, but when AOL took over they decided they didn't do the bottom line any good, and pulled our show in 2001.
This interview was in my personal archives. I can still hear John Spencers voice in my ear as we chatted on a conference call...
CNN_Host: Welcome to the ALLPOLITICS chat room, John Spencer.
John_Spencer: Hello. good to be here...very exciting...very crowded and very noisy!
CNN_Host: In talking with some former and current White House staff members about their real-life experiences, would you like to be the Chief of Staff in the real White House?
John_Spencer: Absolutely not I love watching the political machine work ... I've always been a political junkie but I’ve never had any desire to actually participate in politics You see, when I leave Warner Bros and go home I don't have to take the problems with me like a regular politician!
CNN_Host: Question from: [BigFoot] John, have you learned anything about the ills of the democrats while working with a good republican?
John_Spencer: HAHAHA ... Josia is a Democrat .. we on the West Wing are a Democratic administration But let me tell ya, I think there are good and bad in both
CNN_Host: Question from: [swift] Do you feel that the West Wing will draw more needed attention to politics in general?
John_Spencer: I think that has been the outcome It certainly wasn't necessarily our intent We are entertainment and sometimes the lines become very fuzzy Our main goal is to entertainment and the backdrop happens to be politics but we as actors are one step above carnival performers...hardly true politicians!
CNN_Host: Question from: [BORING] Do you think that politicians are better actors than some of the people in Hollywood?
John_Spencer: I think there are good and bad actors in Wash DC and good and bad actors in Hollywood.
CNN_Host: Question from: [CathyCNN] What have you learned about politics that has surprised you since working on the show?
John_Spencer: One of at he most amazing things I have been able to learn, thru our own writing is the art of compromise It is certainly frustrating .... if I were a politician That if you want "A" often you have to give up b and c to get it.
CNN_Host: Question from: [Nanakat] How much research is done on the show as to the real goings on at the White House?
John_Spencer: I think a lot of research is done thru our advisors and our research staff about the true workings of the government and how political things go down I think Aaron will come up with some ideas and then he will seek out the advise of the political advisers how to make it true to government workings.
CNN_Host: Question from: [Nanakat] Do you find it frustrating that the emphasis always has to be on what the political fall out would be in reference to all decisions made by any president
John_Spencer: Absolutely. In fact, we covered that issue in a episode called "Let Bartlett be Bartlett" where the President had to ultimately decide that instead of being elected to another political term.
CNN_Host: Question from: [Gator```] [Gator```] During the 1988 campaign, Helen Hayes, referring to Reagan told us to never elect an actor, as "we are paid to be convincing." Do you agree?
John_Spencer: I couldn't agree more although I didn't think Ronnie was such a great actor
CNN_Host: Question from: [caps] How do you think interactive TV would change a show like West Wing? Perhaps if the public could decide what happened to a character for past drug use, for example.
John_Spencer: Yes...I have a friend--actually my partner's brother--who is very involved in the inception of interactive tv. I don't really understand it in detail. I think it as an exercise it would be very interesting to have public feedback and have alternate endings But then I am a novice to the computer world and don't know how that would work out.
CNN_Host: Question from: [wiseone] What is your favorite political book?
John_Spencer: hmmm ... Profiles in Courage
CNN_Host: Question from: [JrTy__D] John Spencer: How many votes do you think Josiah Bartlett will get in this election?
John_Spencer: hahahaha ..... well in four years, if we are fortunate to run that long as a political series we will find out becasue we have another campaign to run for his second term As we left the first season Josiah's numbers had gone up so let's say the Administration is on an upward swing
CNN_Host: Question from: [No] Do you feel that Joe Lieberman’s ideas and concerns of Hollywood are being taken seriously by those in the profession?
John_Spencer: I can't honestly answer for a large concept like those in the profession I can give you my particular hit on it.. I am not for censorship of any kind not even for material I would have no interest in exploring. I believe that censorship of any kind is the first step to fascism. I think as a country and a people we must keep both eyes open and defend everyone’s rights even if we don't agree with it
CNN_Host: John Spencer joins us from the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles; CNN.com is providing a typist for him. Do you have any final thoughts for us?
John_Spencer: I have two thoughts about the Gore/Lieberman ticket vs the Bush/Cheney ticket that I would like to share I think people should realize that we are not voting simply for the president in this election It seems to me that the office of the Presidency takes care of itself But what we are voting for is the Supreme court which will last the rest of our lives The next President will probably appoint 3-4 justices. Mr Bush talked about health and education bills and the budget...I thought it would be very interesting if he would be challenged. If you mean these things, why not have Trent Lott introduce them in Congress and President Clinton would certainly sign the bills? It's sort of putting your action where your mouth is. God Bless America!
CNN_Host: Thank you for joining us, John Spencer.
John_Spencer: Thank you for having me!
(Copyright 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Alan J. Franklin) Permission to reprint is granted with attribution to this blog, Nasty Letters to Crooked Politicians, and a live link.