Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bradley and I

Bradley Whitford and I met last night. Well, okay, he spoke at American University and I was in the audience. So he is unaware of our closeness. (But don't think I'm not going to see if this helps me in six degrees games). So, I'm not going to recap the speech - in part because I was there to enjoy it and was not taking copious notes or recording it. But I will share some impressions. And I am - in light of our new closeness - going to take the liberty of referring to him as Bradley. As a warning, Bradley is a tangential thinker (much like myself). So while he had a written speech, he deviated from it often. So my observations will in part reflect that and of course, I'm picking and choosing which I'm sure will exacerbate the effect.

Bradley talked about acting and how great advice he had been giving was essentially you have to love the process more than you love the end result. Because if you don't enjoy the process, then you are in the wrong profession. And while I know this is old advice, it's so true. Being a lawyer on television looks fun - it looks fun to serve people and cross-examine people. They don't show all the writing and all the research and all of the many times it doesn't turn out the way you wanted. (Unless its part of the storyline). So you have to love the process too. Otherwise most of your job will be awful. If you only love ten percent of what you do - you will be a really unhappy person.

Bradley spoke about how when they first got together to put on this show they had no idea that people would take it seriously and look to it for exposition on real politics. They had no idea it would reach a point where lobbyists would come to them in the hopes that they would feature this or that topic on the show so that viewers could learn more about it. Which led him to talk about how looking or acting presidential on television is one thing. And it's really not as related to being presidential as we like to think it is.

Bradley also had an interesting perspective on Bill Clinton compared to Al Gore. He said that in his opinion, it seemed clear having met Clinton that Clinton had this clear need to make everyone love him, which didn't really come from an emotionally healthy place but translated well on screen. Whereas Al Gore is, as he put it, emotionally resolved, so what you see is a guy with all this information and a desire to serve the country, but you don't see that same need emanating from him as you do with Clinton.

Bradley was very humble about the fact that his dad raised cattle and worked the land, and he wears makeup for a living. He was also adamant (much as "The West Wing" has been) that participation in the voting process is one of the biggest things any of us can do. Bradley spoke about the hypocrisy he saw in religious fundamentalists who supported governmental choices in conflict with Christianity. It seemed to me, that much of what he said echoed or was influenced by "The Christian Paradox" - so I will refer you there.

All in all it was a very interesting discussion, and Bradley remains on my list of people I'd love to have a meal with.