POLITICS

'Chasing the Hill' recruits real Washingtonians for final scenes

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Nikki Schwab

On Saturday night, "Chasing the Hill" creator Brent Roske showed just how on-the-fly he films his political Web series.

Roske used an Environmental Film Festival event in Georgetown as a platform for Washingtonians to view the first three episodes of the online-only television show. But he also used that captive audience to create a crowd shot for the show's fourth chapter.

"This is hair and makeup," actress and "West Wing" alumnus Melissa Fitzgerald laughed, doing a quick brush through her trusses before her fictional political character was introduced to the crowd, alongside real Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.

All along, the series has used real political backdrops (like the Democratic National Convention and Obama's inauguration) to give it authenticity. Roske has also gotten cameos from politicos and pundits with help from the show's executive producer, Richard Schiff.

"The actor who was going to play opposite [former California Gov.] Gray Davis couldn't do it the night before, so I get an email from [MSNBC host] Lawrence O'Donnell saying, 'Richard says I have to be in your show tomorrow,' " Roske recalled. "That's what Richard Schiff does."

Schiff also has a small part in the series, available for download online. "Full disclosure, he wanted me to play the lead role or a lead role and I told him I've already done that on a show," Schiff laughed, clearly referring to his tenure playing White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler on "The West Wing."

"But I'd be happy to help out and adjust the role so somebody young and handsome could do it," Schiff continued. The lead ended up being played by Matthew Del Negro, while Schiff portrays a forceful Democratic operative. "Karl Rove came to mind," Schiff said. "I'm the Democratic Karl Rove."

Scheduling has always been a challenge for the gang, with Schiff living temporarily in the District and the rest of the ensemble residing in Los Angeles. This trip was no different. Roske was trying to film some final scenes at Capitol Hill's Lincoln Park, but for Schiff, real Washington came calling. "He goes, 'We have to finish at noon,' " Roske recalled, quoting Schiff. "No, I'm serious," Roske said Schiff said. "Because I have to go out to lunch with the vice president."

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Nikki Schwab

Staff Reporter - Yeas & Nays
The Washington Examiner