Sports Night/Rebecca

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Season 1, Episode 14
Airdate January 26, 1999
Production Number N-315
Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by Thomas Schlamme
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Sports NightSeason One

Rebecca is the fourteenth episode of the first season of Sports Night.

Dan sees a woman in an elevator, and takes a liking to her. Dana sees the writing on the wall for her relationship with Gordon, and gets worried. Isaac sees the writing in the newspaper, and gets angry.

Starring: Josh Charles (Dan Rydell), Peter Krause (Casey McCall), Felicity Huffman (Dana Whitaker), Joshua Malina (Jeremy Goodwin), Sabrina Lloyd (Natalie Hurley) and Robert Guillaume (Isaac Jaffe),

Guest Starring: Kayla Blake (Kim), Greg Baker (Elliott), Teri Polo (Rebecca), Robert Mailhouse (J.J.), Jeff Mooring (Dave), Ron Ostrow (Will), Timothy Davis-Reed (Chris)

Co-Starring: Katie O'Rourke (Judith)


Plot Overview

During a commercial break, Dan is explaining his romantic woes to Casey. Or at least he's trying to, and Casey isn't making it easy on him. The gist: several days ago, Dan was riding up in an elevator with Natalie. Rebecca, a friend of Natalie's who works in the Continental Corp building, got on the elevator and greeted Natalie, who introduced her to Dan. Now, Natalie is pressing Dan to call Rebecca, but he doesn't want to because he's currently seeing a woman named Elaine.

In the control room, Dana is being especially "persnickety" with the crew. Natalie loudly explains to everyone (against Dana's wishes) that Dana is worried Gordon will break up with her. Oh, and she's secretly in love with Casey. (Repeat x100) Isaac enters the control room with a terse announcement for a quick meeting with the senior staff after the show.

On the way to the meeting, Dan tries explaining the Rebecca story again. Dana confesses her fears of an impending break-up to Natalie, who advises her to speak to Casey. At the meeting, Isaac's non-announcement is simply that the staff should ignore an article in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal, which causes nothing but worry and confusion.

The next day, Isaac is in a closed-door meeting with J.J., while Dana, Casey and Dan hover outside in the hallway. Dan and Casey plot an excuse to enter, which gets on Dana's nerves. In the office, Isaac reads aloud an article describing a meeting between Luther Sachs and and another TV programmer. An unnamed source in the article cites friction between Luther and Isaac over the show's content. J.J. tries to downplay the problem, but Isaac knows the leak must be highly placed within CSC.

Dan gets Jeremy to knock on Isaac's door, after which they all attempt to pile in, but Isaac dismisses them. Dan goes downstairs to let Rebecca down easy. Natalie again encourages Dana to go to Casey for advice. Meanwhile, Dan has found Rebecca's office and delivered an elaborate, earnest apology, which turns out to be unneccesary when Rebecca barely remembers who he is. Dan walks off embarrassed.

In the edit room, Casey is looking at tapes when Dana comes in. She's just beginning to speak to him when Dan arrives, extremely confused. Dana leaves, while Dan explains the embarrassment he just suffered to a barely interested Casey. But his biggest concern is that in both meetings, Rebecca completely failed to warm up to Dan's charm, so he goes downstairs to talk to her again. In Isaac's office, J.J. is about to leave, and Isaac just has one message for Luther: whatever he has to say, say it to his face, don't knock the show in newspapers.

Downstairs again, Rebecca is still distant, and Dan discovers she's never seen an episode of Sports Night. She attempts to sweep him out politely, but he asks her out for a drink, so she puts it plainly: she's just not interested. Dan's self-image drops several notches, and he slinks away. Dana enters Casey's office and asks him for advice on how to prevent a breakup with Gordon. Casey tells her to use honesty, which Dana has plenty of, but she doubts it will be of much use. Casey comforts her by saying that her true self, the self that is intensely focused on her career, is an attractive person, which makes her feel a little better.

A few minutes before air, J.J. has brought his fiancée to the studio for a quick visit. Isaac engineers a moment alone and subtly accuses J.J. of being the Journal's leak. Dana tells Natalie that Casey made her feel a little better. And Dan admits feeling a little pain at the thought of a woman he likes having no interest in him, a topic which finally interests Casey.


Arc Advancement


  • Dan tries to charm Rebecca into a date, and fails repeatedly. Her resistance only entices him further.
  • A Wall Street Journal article implies a growing rift between Luther Sachs and Isaac.


  • After the events of last episode, Dana worries that Gordon is planning to break up with her.
  • Isaac displays a heretofore unseen menace towards J.J. when suspecting him as the unnamed source in the Journal article.
  • Dan tries to present himself as a kind of chivalrous suitor: He repeatedly says that while he wouldn't make a pass at Rebecca because he's "not that guy," he also won't ignore her because he's "not that guy," but at the same time, he's worried when his charms have no effect on her!
  • Natalie is pressing much harder now on the notion that Dana is secretly in love with Casey, perhaps because Dana's relationship with Gordon is in danger.


  • Isaac's power struggle with network management already existed in the pilot episode, and he worried in 1x12 that Luther would eventually find a reason to fire him.


The Show

  • First appearance of Rebecca.
  • Teri Polo, who plays Rebecca, would later appear as Helen Santos in another Aaron Sorkin project: The West Wing.
  • We learn that besides his encyclopedaic knowledge of sports, Jeremy is also a "meteorology nerd."

Behind the Scenes

Allusions and References

  • Dan: What are you, Agatha Christie?

Agatha Christie is the world's all-time bestselling mystery author. In this case, Dan is chiding Isaac for giving only a single clue to the purpose of the staff meeting, like a Christie character might at the climax of a mystery.

Memorable Moments

  • Casey answers Leonard Mooker's question.
  • Dana gets persnickety in the control room.
  • Both of Dan's conversations with Rebecca.
  • Dana tells the truth about herself, impressing Casey.
  • Isaac gives J.J. a warning.


  • Dan: (on-air) We've got more comin' up including Michigan/Indiana and a swim in the shark tank, plus you never know when Casey's gonna freak out on the air.
  • Dan: Do you understand?
    Casey: No.
    Dan: You don't?
    Casey: No.
    Dan: Really?
    Casey: Yes.
    Dan: Can I spread it out for you in a nutshell?
    Casey: Mmmm... No.
    Dan: I can't?
    Casey: No.
    Dan: Why not?
    Casey: 'Cause I'm tired of you mixing your metaphors. Spread it out for you in a nutshell? "How 'ya doin'? I'm a professional writer."
  • Dan: You don't have to ask questions, I'm gonna tell the story clearly. The things you need to know, I'm gonna tell you.
    Casey: Yeah, but I married someone once who said that, and now she has half my stuff.
    Dan: I don't want your stuff.
    Casey: You say that now...
  • Dana: (to Jeremy) Are you sensitive about being a weather nerd? I mean, if I make fun of your being a weather nerd, will it hurt your feelings?
    Natalie: He prefers meteorology nerd, don't you sweetie?
  • Natalie: (re: Dana) She thinks Gordon's about to break up with her.
    Dana: Natalie, are you able to distinguish between conversations we have in private and conversations we have in a room full of people?
    Natalie: Also, she's secretly in love with Casey.
    Dana: Oh, I want this commercial break to be over so bad.
  • Dana: At this meeting after the show, are any of these other people here gonna get fired?
    Isaac: No.
    Dana: 'Cause I don't care if they do.
  • Dan: So I'm gonna try telling you this story one more time.
    Casey: Can I just make a suggestion?
    Dan: Sure.
    Casey: What if, instead of you telling me the story right this second, you never tell me the story ever.
  • Natalie: You should talk to Casey.
    Dana: That's your only advice?
    Natalie: No, I have other advice.
    Dana: What?
    Natalie: (pause) That was my only advice.
  • Casey: (re: Dana being "persnickety") Is it nature's special time?
    Dana: Oh you know what, bite me so hard for that.
  • (Isaac has called senior staff to a meeting.)
    Isaac: Thanks, this won't take long. There's gonna be a piece in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal. (pause) Don't worry about it. That's all.
    Dan: Whoa, whoa!
    Casey: Isaac?
    Isaac: What?
    Dan: What are you, Agatha Christie?
    Dana: What's in the Journal?
    Isaac: (smiling) Don't worry about it. Goodnight. (leaves)
    Casey: Well, that was reassuring.
  • Rebecca: I don't know you.
    Dan: I'm Dan Rydell.
    Rebecca: (remembering) We met in the elevator!
    Dan: Yes we did.
    Rebecca: What can I do for you?
    Dan: (confused) I'm Dan Rydell.
    Rebecca: So I heard.
  • Casey: (re: Dana) That woman is crazier than than any ten people I know.
  • Dan: I just came back because I felt bad about our first meeting.
    Rebecca: In the elevator?
    Dan: No, that meeting I felt good about until our second meeting which I felt bad about.
    Rebecca: Dan, there's really no need to feel bad about any of our meetings.
    Dan: That's easy for you to say, you don't remember any of our meetings.
    Rebecca: It was ten seconds in an elevator.
    Dan: Yeah, but you've seen me on TV.
    Rebecca: When have I seen you on TV?
    Dan: I'm Dan Rydell.
    Rebecca: And we're back to the starting gate.
    Dan: "Good evening, from New York City I'm Dan Rydell alongside Casey McCall." I'm that Dan Rydell. Sports Night.
    Rebecca: Oh! I've never seen Sports Night.
    Dan: Don't you work for CSC?
    Rebecca: I work for Continental Corp, so I do work for CSC, but I'm an analyst. They don't make me watch the show.
    Dan: There are people who watch it voluntarily.
    Rebecca: I'm sure there are.
    Dan: It's a good show.
    Rebecca: Yeah, I liked the part where you said your names.
    Dan: We do more than that.
    Rebecca: I would think.
  • Dan: (to Rebecca) I'm gonna go scrape my self-image off the floor and then get ready to do my show which, by the way, can be seen every night on your network.
  • (Dana doesn't know what to say to prevent Gordon from breaking up with her.)
    Dana: The truth is I have a job that involves me and stimulates me and rewards me and takes up a lot of my time, and I'm not willing to do my job just a little bit, I want to do all of it. It's part of me and I am different without it. And that is who I am, and that is who you need to love. (pause) Except it won't work!
    Casey: Yes it will.
    Dana: It won't!
    Casey: Say it just like that.
    Dana: It won't.
    Casey: Dana, any man who hears that and doesn't say "For a woman like you, for a person, for you, I will take whatever time you can give me and be grateful for that all my life" (pause) any man who hears that and doesn't throw you down on the nearest flat surface is just taking up space for the rest of us.
  • Isaac: (to J.J.) I find out that quote in the Journal came from you, I'm gonna own your ass. I mean I'll absolutely own it.