Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip/The Long Lead Story

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The Long Lead Story
Season 1, Episode 5
Airdate October 16, 2006
Written by Aaron Sorkin (teleplay)
Dana Calvo (story)
Directed by David Petrarca
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Studio 60 on the Sunset StripSeason One

The Long Lead Story is the fifth episode of the first season of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and the fifth episode overall. Martha O'Dell continues to pursue her story about Studio 60 when she starts to uncover the story about Matt and Harriet. Meanwhile, Jordan and Jack clash over a reality show that Jordan thinks is too low-brow for the network.

Special Guest Stars: Christine Lahti (Martha O'Dell), Ed Asner (Wilson White)

Guest Stars: Merritt Wever (Suzanne), Diana-Maria Riva (Lilly Rodriguez), Ayda Field (Jeanie Whatley), Simon Helberg (Alex Dwyer), Harry Van Gorkum (Martin Sykes), Zeb Newman (Trevor)

Uncredited: Sting (Himself), Edin Karamazov (Himself), Lauren Graham (Herself)


Plot Overview

Martha O'Dell is still hanging around the studio, trying to write her long-lead story for Vanity Fair, which began on the night of the preview episode of Studio 60. Because her meddling is throwing off Matt's game, he attempts to make her leave but only succeeds when he makes a bet with her that she won't be able to make him talk about his relationship with Harriet.

Jordan and Danny meet up later in a bar, where she asks him to help persuade a young playwright with a pilot called "Nations" into passing on a potential deal with HBO in favor of putting the show on NBS. Danny refuses, however, citing that the show is too good for NBS and that he doesn't want to damage his "street cred" by steering the writer in the wrong direction.

After she rehearses a sketch with Simon and Jeanie for the production team to test run their graphics, Harriet is cornered by Martha, who attempts to get her story. In this time, Harriet recounts her life as the only girl of seven children in Michigan. She talked mainly about her mother and her career history until the two abandoned the conversation to watch Sting play a lute on stage for his sound check.

The next day, several NBS executives meet with a man named Martin Sykes who pitches them a reality show called "Search and Destroy," where several couples are put into a house and saboteurs attempt to break those couples up with past indiscretions that may not have been shared between the two. Although Jack is into the idea of a hit reality show being added to their line-up, Jordan refuses to make a bid on the series. She argues that the show is so low-brow and uninteresting that it doesn't fit in with her vision of the network. In an attempt to make money for the network, however, Jack supercedes her by bringing Wilson White in to decide on whether or not to make the bid.

Later that night at the dress rehearsal, Matt and Danny cut sketches that weren't deemed funny enough for the live show. While Matt and Danny throw darts at the board and figure out what goes, the cast finishes their good nights and Suzanne tells Tom that she accidentally spilled the story about Matt and the Bombshell Babies to Martha. Tom promises that he'll fix things and asks Martha to attribute it to him instead of Suzanne. Worried that she might know too much, Tom pulls Simon aside before he answers any of Martha's questions and fills him in on what she knows. Simon accidentally fills her in on what she doesn't know because he was still micced when he asked Tom if she knew about the Star Spangled Banner, Jeanie or The 700 Club.

In the meeting with Wilson White, he decides that Jordan knows what she's doing and Jack should let her run the network in her way if he saw that she was fit to hire. Meanwhile at Studio 60, during the Nicolas Cage Show sketch, Simon confesses to Harriet that he spilled the beans about her personal life with Matt to Martha. Martha talks to Matt about her discovery, which causes him to writer her a $100 check for the earlier bet and admit that the only reason why he broke out was because he was trying to impress Harriet. Finally, the writer of "Nations" is ultimately persuaded by Danny to take his show to NBS due to Jordan passing on the trashy reality show.

At the end, while Sting plays "Fields of Gold," Harriet and Matt briefly share a moment.



  • "Come Again" by John Dowland: During his sound check, Sting played Come Again, a song originally composed by John Dowland sometime between 1597 and 1610. The song was covered by Sting on his 2006 folk album, Songs from the Labyrinth, on which he performed several songs penned by Dowland. The song was performed in the episode by Sting and Edin Karamazov on the lute.
  • "Fields of Gold" by Sting: In the performance at the end of the episode, while Matt and Harriet watch from the balcony during the live show, Sting plays "Fields of Gold," off his 1993 album Ten Summoner's Tales. The song peaked at #23 on the Billboard single charts and was not originally played with a lute.

Host/Musical Guest

  • The host for this week's episode of Studio 60 is Lauren Graham, most well known for co-starring in Gilmore Girls. She appears at least once in the Jenny Doesn't Have a Baby sketch as one of Jenny's friends and is mentioned on the marquee outside of the studio. The musical guest is Sting, who also appears and plays two songs on the lute; one is played during the sound check and the second is played towards the end of the episode.


Arc Advancement


  • Vanity Fair: Martha O'Dell uncovers the story about Matt and Harriet's relationship from Suzanne, Tom and Simon but doesn't know if she'll write the article about their problems or about the show.


  • Harriet: Harriet dictates nearly her entire backstory to Martha O'Dell up to when she was discovered by Danny while she was performing with the Groundlings.



The Show

  • Future Guest: On the marquee outside of the theater, Jessica Simpson is listed as the host for the next week. Because there isn't a musical guest listed on the display, it is presumed that she will be both the host and the musical guest.

Behind the Scenes

  • Nations: In the episode, Jordan McDeere is trying to woo a New York playright with a funny and dramatic but intellectual show about the United Nations to NBS instead of HBO. Series creator Aaron Sorkin was a New York playwright who also created a similar series about the White House on NBC called The West Wing.

Allusions and References

  • Les Moonves: Les Moonves is the president and CEO of CBS Corporation, he has been responsible for greenlighting Survivor and arguably kicking off the reality television boom of the early 2000s.
Cal: Les Moonves got the new Martin Sykes show.

Memorable Moments