West Wing
Squeaky Clean

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Squeaky Clean
  • chose the name "Sheen" for his acting career because of his esteem for Bishop Fulton J. Sheen;
  • was one of Cesar Chavez's pallbearers;
  • received the 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Catholics in Media Associates;
  • and finally, agreed to work on The West Wing with the understanding that he would get time off to attend "protest rallies and poverty marches."

    I hate to complain, but there's a whole wide world full of celebrity activists like Alec Baldwin, Woody Harrelson, and Rosie O'Donnell, whose self-promotion and holier-than-thou lecturing make them eminently mockable. Yet I have to find something to say about Martin Sheen, who rarely mentions his personal beliefs in interviews unless specifically asked, and who, to the best of my knowledge, has never demanded that anyone else take action for one of his pet causes. It's a bit frustrating.

    I will add that, near the end of the article is another story which, while not ripe for mockery, actually relates to the show, and might be of interest to our readers. Sheen reveals that a change was made to The West Wing's Christmas episode, "In Excelsis Deo." In that episode, Toby arranges for a homeless Korean War veteran to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with a full honor guard. On re-reading that sentence, perhaps I should clarify that the man in question was definitely dead when Toby planned his burial. In the show as aired, Toby and Mrs. Landingham attend the funeral while the President and the rest of the staff listen to children singing "The Little Drummer Boy" at the White House. (I think we can safely assume that Aaron Sorkin's middle name is not "Subtle.") It seems that the original storyline called for the President to attend the funeral as well. According to Sheen, the change was made because the President's presence "would have taken away the poignancy of the scene. His presence makes everything too big -- the Secret Service, the press. And that's why I like this show. We try to play honest moments with real characters." No real humor value, but at least some interesting background for the fans.

    If you'll pardon another brief digression: a member of my research team (it was, in fact, Yakko) just got back to me with an update. Dorothy Day founded the Catholic Worker Movement, died in 1980, and is currently a candidate for sainthood. I suspect that further investigation on this topic is unlikely to turn up any humorous material. In fact, if I learn anything more about Martin Sheen, I may be physically unable to make even the smallest joke about him or any of the characters he portrays. It's gotten so bad that I'm starting to have misgivings about some of the comments I've made about Moira Kelly, simply through her association with Martin Sheen.

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