Monday, March 30, 2009


In the sixth season episode of 'The West Wing' entitled "The Wake-Up Call", Christopher Lloyd appeared as Lawrence Lessig, author of "The Future Of Ideas" (about copyright law, I believe), who was brought in to the White House to advise a Belarus delegation on the drafting of their own constitution.Save those people who appeared as themselves on 'The West Wing' - like Jay Leno, Penn Jillette, and Yo-Yo Ma - no real-life figures were shown to be portrayed by actors... except for Lawrence Lessig.

Here's a thumbnail biography for Lessig, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Lawrence Lessig (born June 3, 1961) is an American academic and political activist. He is a professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of its Center for Internet and Society, and will soon re-join the faculty at Harvard Law School. Lessig is a founding board member of Creative Commons, a board member of the Software Freedom Law Center and a former board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He is best known as a proponent of reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trademark, and radio frequency spectrum, particularly in technology applications.

As an expert on intellectual property law, I'm sure he'd have plenty to say about "Inner Toob"!

Toobworld is used to TV characters based on real world people looking nothing like the original: Ross Perot = Richard Crenna, Ryan White's Mom = Judith Light, Pappy Boyington = Robert Conrad. So it's not that odd that Christopher Lloyd looks nothing like the actual Lessig:
I really can't figure out why Christopher Lloyd was chosen to play the part. As great as he is, he's almost thirty years older than Lawrence Lessig!

Well, this all takes place in the 'West Wing' dimension, so it's not a real sticking point. But if Lessig was to be portrayed in a show set on Earth Prime-Time, then I have a better suggestion for the actor: Christian Clemenson is only three years older than Lessig, a much better match that way.

Here's what Lessig had to say about the 'West Wing' portrayal:

"The story is based (loosely) upon a true story. I was involved in the drafting of one early version of the Georgian constitution. But the story ended up in the 'West Wing' because I told the story to my students in Constitutional Law at Harvard, and a current writer for 'the West Wing' was in that class.

And so is "fame" made: My story is on 'the West Wing' because I was at Harvard -- not because the brilliance of my intervention had been noted and reviewed, but because I was teaching talented kids who would prove to be important. Indeed, so has the most important of my "fame" been made: Did Justice Jackson pick me to be his special master because he had determined I was the perfect mix of Holmes and Ed Felten? No, I was picked because I was a Harvard Law Professor teaching the law of cyberspace.

Remember: So is "fame" made."

Toby O'B

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