The Cultural Cheat Sheet
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum

(FORTUNE Magazine) – NBC's The West Wing is one of TV's hottest series, but who has a whole hour every Wednesday? Here's what you need to know:

--The show's romance between the press secretary and the journalist is probably modeled after Dee Dee Myers (a West Wing consultant) and Todd Purdum of the New York Times, but the two, now married, didn't date while working at the White House.

--The real West Wing is tinier, quieter, less accessible, less frenetic, less erudite, far less idealistic, and much more boring.

--Brad Whitford, who plays Josh Lyman, the show's deputy chief of staff, is the brother of FORTUNE writer David Whitford.

--As good as The West Wing is, Aaron Sorkin's other series, the half-hour Sports Night on ABC, is better.

--Jeffrey H. Birnbaum