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Recap / Sports Night S 01 E 11 The Six Southern Gentlemen Of Tennessee

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Casey and Dan are backstage getting ready for the show. Upon hearing there are nine hockey segments in that night's show, Dan says "Jerome" will be happy. Casey doesn't know who Jerome is, and Dan has to point out he's the operator on camera 2.

In the control room, Dana tells Elliot to kill segment 23 (Elliot: "I never had 23." Dana: "Then you won't miss it much"). When Jeremy walks in, Dana asks him what's going on in Chattanooga, but Jeremy doesn't know.


In the studio, Dan tells Casey that he should make a New Year's Resolution to learn the names of everyone working on the show.

In the control room, Natalie gets off the phone with someone in Chattanooga, but they don't know what's going on. Dana tells Casey what little they do know; there was an incident at Tennessee Western involving some football players and the Confederate Flag, but that's all they know. Casey and Dan do the teaser for the broadcast. When they finish, Isaac comes into the control room.

Dana: We don't know.
Isaac: We don't know?
Dana: We don't know.
Isaac: We don't know anything?
Dana: We don't know much.
Isaac: But, fundamentally, we're still a news-gathering organization, right?
Dana: Sure.
Isaac: Then what's the problem?
Dana: We're not very good.

Near the end of the show, Casey and Dan remind viewers that it's time to pick the "Play of the Year", and they can contact the show at their website for their picks. After they sign off, Dan teases Casey about the "cooking show" he's going to appear on. Turns out Casey is making a guest appearance on The View, and Wolfgang Puck will be there as well. Dana also brings it up.

The next morning, we see Casey being interviewed by Meredith Viera, Star Jones, and the other hosts of The View. They ask him how he and Dan write the scripts together, and he responds, "I take the nouns and verbs, Danny handles the adjectives and prepositions. Anything with an umlaut, we toss a coin." Jones brings up his ties, and compliments him for being a single man who can dress himself, which he jokes about but accepts. Jones then plugs Sports Night, and the show goes to commercial.


In the conference room at the noon rundown meeting, Dana asks Jeremy what he knows about what happened in Chattanooga. Jeremy, with a little help from Natalie, explains; Roland Shepard was a second-string running back for Tennessee Western until the starting tailback tore a ligament in his knee. Since then, Shepard has set a two-game conference rushing total (491 yards), scored four rushing touchdowns (along with a punt return touchdown and a receiving touchdown), two of them against one of the toughest rushing defenses in the nation, and he's carrying a 3.3 GPA with major in chemical engineering (which Jeremy says is no mean feat at Tennessee Western). The problem is, there's a rumor he won't play anymore unless the school agrees to take down the Confederate flag flying outside the stadium, and the school will kick him off the team if he does this, which would mean he'd lose his scholarship. Shepard is having a press conference, and Dana tells Dan to cover it. She also tells everyone to come up with ideas for "Play of the Year", and Natalie ends the meeting by telling everyone to come back at six. As everyone leaves, Isaac tells Dan he wants to talk to him; Dan as it happens, also wants to talk to Isaac. As they walk back to Isaac's office, Isaac tells Dan Luther Sachs has taken an interest in the story (as he's from the South), and he wants Dan to do a segment on the Southern tradition in sports, culture and history. Dan figures out what Sachs really wants is to do a segment showing how all of that is symbolized by the Confederate flag. He asks if Isaac really wants to do this, and Isaac admits he's not up to fighting Sachs on this one. Dan says he'd be happy to fight for him, but Isaac tells him to cram it.

Casey is in his office, re-watching his interview, when Monica (Janel Moloney) comes in, asking if it's a bad time. Casey wants to know what she wants to know, and she responds, "What's my name?" Casey looks at her, a little wary, and she explains who she is, what she does (she's the assistant wardrobe supervisor on this and two other shows at CSC), and why she's there; she thinks Casey hurt the feelings of her boss, Maureen, the wardrobe supervisor. Casey says he knows Maureen. Monica asks if Casey can tell what color the tie she's holding is (he can't; it's gunmetal), and what shirt it would go best with (he can't).

Monica says she's leaving, as she knows it's going to get busy for Casey soon, and pleads with him not to tell Maureen she was there. Casey, who's been dumbstruck the whole time, says he won't.

In the conference room, Elliot, Jeremy, Kim and Natalie are trying to decide on ideas for "Play of the Year". Natalie says they'll make a list, with pros and cons of each choice. Jeremy makes fun of Natalie wanting to make lists, and Natalie makes fun of what Jeremy saves. Kim brings up woman's ice hockey - specifically the fact the U.S. woman's team won the first Olympic gold medal in that event - but Jeremy disparages that event, saying the victory was meaningless. Jeremy in turn brings up Mark McGwire breaking the single-season home run record, Jeff Gordon winning NASCAR, and skier Herman Meier recovering from a horrific accident to win the Olympic gold medal in downhill skiing. Kim thinks McGwire is too obvious a choice (Jeremy: "Our goal isn't to be cunning, is it?"), and says of the others, "Who gives a damn?"

Isaac is in his office, watching Shepard's conference on TV. Shepard says while he means no disrespect to his teammates or his school, and while he knows how important it was to his family to go to college (he was the first in his family to do so), he can't in good conscience play underneath the flag, and he knows his family would understand that. Dan comes in, and Isaac admits he keeps watching the press conference over and over. Dan figures Shepard will get picked up by someone else, and Isaac agrees, but points out six of Shepard's teammates (and not all of them black), none of whom are starters, are standing by Shepard by refusing to play, and they won't be as lucky. Dan says he's written the piece, and it's just like Sachs wanted it. Isaac says it's crap. Dan wants to know why Isaac isn't doing an editorial piece on his own. Isaac closes the door to his office and tells Dan he thinks Sachs is looking for an excuse to fire him. Dan doesn't agree; he doesn't like Sachs personally, but he thinks Sachs is smart and respects Isaac. Isaac explains he used to be like Dan in wanting to pick fights with management all the time, but he's too old to do that now; he wouldn't find someone else to hire him so easily, and Sachs could replace him easily. Dan thinks Isaac is being hypocritical, since just as Roland's teammates are standing with him, all the people who work with Isaac would do the same thing if Isaac was fired. He appeals to Isaac again to do an editorial piece on his own, but Isaac says he won't. Dan doesn't like this, but leaves.

In the control room, right before the broadcast, Jeremy brings up the Yankees winning the World Series after winning 114 games that season. Dana thinks that's obvious, and Jeremy again wants to know what's wrong with that. Dana decides to ask Chris, Dave and Will what they think. They can't believe they're being asked, but Dana, Jeremy, Kim and Natalie assure them they really want to know, and there's no wrong answer (though Jeremy again takes a dig at Kim for women's ice hockey).

Dave: Mark O'Meara winning two majors.
Chris: Cal Ripken ending the streak.
Will: Peyton Manning.

As the three turn back to the sound board, Isaac comes in. He apologizes to Dana for doing this at the last minute, but says he wants to do a two-minute editorial, and she can get rid of the piece Dan was going to do. Dana smiles at this, and tells Will to get Isaac wired up for the studio.

Several minutes later, in the studio, Casey brings up Roland Shepard, and turns the show over to Isaac for his editorial:

Isaac: "Exaudio, Comperio, Conloquor." That's a Latin phrase that translates: To Listen, To Learn, To Speak. Those words are carved into the stone arches that form the entrance to the undergraduate library at Tennessee Western University. This afternoon, an extraordinary young man named Roland Shepard made what had to have been an excruciating decision. He said he wasn't playing football under a Confederate flag. Six of his teammates then chose not to let Shepard stand alone. And I choose to join them at this moment. In the history of the South, there's much to celebrate, and that flag is a desecration of all of it. It's a banner of hatred and separation. It's a banner of ignorance and violence and a war that pitted brother against brother, and to ask young black men and women, young Jewish men and women, Asians, Native Americans, to ask Americans to walk beneath its shadow is a humiliation of irreducible proportions. And we all know it. Tennessee Western has produced some outstanding alumni in the last hundred years. People of wisdom and vision. Strength and compassion. One of them is Luther Sachs. Luther Sachs owns Continental Corp, which owns the Continental Sports Channel, which you're watching right now. Luther Sachs is a generous alumni contributor to Tennessee Western with a considerable influence over its Chancellor, Davis Blake, and its Board of Trustees. Luther, you've got a phone call to make. You've got to call Chancellor Blake and tell him to take down that flag or he can stop looking for your checks in the mail. You've got to put these young men back in a classroom, and I mean pronto. These boys are gonna make you proud one day, Luther. I challenge you to do the right thing. Not an unreasonable request to make of a man whose alma mater declares Exaudio, Comperio, Conloquor: To Listen, To Learn, To Speak. In the meantime, God go with you, Roland Shepard and you six Southern gentlemen of Tennessee. God's not done with any of you yet.

Casey tells viewers they'll be back after the commercial. When the signal cuts away, the crew in the studio start applauding, and Casey says, "You can bring it, boss." Dan, who's been watching with the studio crew, jokes that he's having impure thoughts about Isaac. Isaac takes off the mike, and as he walks away, Dan hugs him from the side. Isaac walks into the control room, and everyone in there applauds as well. Dana is so overcome she can hardly speak, and Jeremy says simply, "No kidding; Play of The Year." Kim comes in to tell Isaac Sachs is on the phone for him. As Isaac goes to his office to take the call, Dan reminds him, "Right behind you." They knock fists together.

In the control room, Dana is still overcome. The show comes back from commercial, and Dan and Casey announce they're going to mention some of the crew members who work on the show. Casey brings up Maureen and Monica, the latter of whom is watching from the sidelines, and who smiles at being mentioned. Dan brings up Jerome (along with the other camera operators) and his love of hockey. After naming several names, Casey says they're only a fraction of the people they need to thank, but they'll do more as they get closer to Christmas, and he wishes the audience, on his and their behalf, a merry Christmas.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Bait-and-Switch Comment:
    Dan: Hey folks, look outside. Tinsel, mistletoe, it can only mean one thing: Casey?
    Casey: Play of the Year.
    Dan: Play o'the Year.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": After Dan reminds Casey he's still not allowed to talk to the press:
    Casey: You want me to talk to somebody?
    Dan: No.
    Casey: I can.
    Dan: I'm perfectly happy just doing my job and keeping my mouth shut. I don't need to give interviews. I don't even want to give interviews. I'm happy for the chance to not give interviews.
    Casey: You don't want me to talk to them?
    Dan: No.
    Casey: Okay.
    Dan: Talk to them.
    Casey: Danny...
    Dan:I need to give interviews. I like to give interviews. It's the only chance I get to talk to a huge group of total strangers.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Dana: By the way, in the memos that are circulating, we're spelling Chattanooga about 14 different ways, now what do we know?
    Jeremy: Two "o's", three "a's".
    Dana: That's it?
    Jeremy: No, there are other letters too. (off Dana's look) But surely that's not what you meant.
  • Continuity Nod: Dan is still not allowed to give interviews.
  • Crossover: With The View.
  • Foreshadowing: While we don't hear the Isaac/Sachs phone call, it affects the next episode and another down the line.
  • Layman's Terms: Discussed:
    Dana: Jeremy, tell me what's happening in Chattanooga. Tell me quickly, tell me succinctly. Bullet points. We're on the air in less than two minutes, so don't give me a valedictory address. Talk to me as if I'm a small child. Tell me what's happening in Chattanooga.
    Jeremy: I don't know what's happening in Chattanooga.
    Dana: (Beat) Okay, tell me a little more than that.
  • Southern Gentlemen: Discussed:
    Isaac: (Luther Sachs) is a southerner.
    Dan: Luther Sachs is German.
    Isaac: He's a southerner for three generations.
    Dan: Faulkner was a southerner.
    Isaac: Faulkner was a southern gentleman.
    Dan: There's a difference?
    Isaac: The difference, Danny, is all the difference.
  • Take That!: When complimented on the fact he knows how to dress himself, Casey responds, "Which is why so many of us are drawn to Carrot Top."

Example of: