President Obama's words might have a slightly different ring to them when he delivers his State of the Union address a week from today: Jon Favreau, his longtime ingenue head speech writer, is leaving to try and make it in Hollywood — and he's not the first (or last) major political operative to jump to the sizzle of L.A. from the stench of Washington, D.C. There's a long list of former aides and speechwriters from both sides of the aisle who've moved on to producing and writing (ultimately pretty lackluster) political movies and TV shows. Herein, a few examples that might reveal the Favreau ceiling, and are riddled enough with Aaron Sorkin that, well, hopefully he doesn't have to go work on The Newsroom.
Stevens sharpened his political teeth on Bob Dole's 1996 campaign, and then on George Bush's media team in 2000 and 2004. He had previous television writing experience, though, with two writing credits on Northern Exposure, and so he jumped back in to television with ABC's (very) short-lived 2006 drama Commander-in-Chief. Remember? The one with Geena Davis? Since then, well, Stevens was pretty busy with that whole Mitt Romney thing.
Murphy was a Romney adviser until 2006 when he resigned right before Romney launched his first failed Presidential campaign. His career in Hollywood didn't exactly take off, either.
O'Donnell was an aide for Sen. Patrick Moynihan until 1995. From there, he went on to write and executive produce for the completely unwatched television show, The West Wing. (Seriously, you've never heard of it, not even now that it's on Netflix, and note even after it had the reverse effect of bringing "a new generation" to DC, apparently.) He's on MSNBC every night now, of course, and has appeared in a bunch of political movies as himself. Did you watch The Campaign? He was in that! This is a (mostly) successful transition. Take note.
Another success story! Sort of! Attie was Al Gore's chief speech writer form 1997 until the end of his 2000 presidential bid. Attie also jumped on to The West Wing's writing staff before working on another Aaron Sorkin production — the pretty terrible Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Thankfully that didn't tank his career, because since Attie has found work as a writer on House.
Oh, right, the Minnesota Senator actually went in the other direction. He parlayed his career as a comedy writer and satirist on Saturday Night Live (and a handful of bad movies, and then bestsellers) into a successful bid for radio, and then actual major political office. Hey, whatever works, right?
Oh, right, there's already a Jon Favreau in Hollywood. And he's successful! Have you seen the Iron Man movies yet? They're a lot of fun. At the very least, Obama's Favreau can maybe hope to get a few meeting on name recognition alone. He just has to prepare for when his potential employers react every time he shows up and they realize they're talking to the wrong Favreau.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.