Mark Goffman talks “The West Wing”

Award-winning “The West Wing” writer Mark Goffman sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “Hollywood at Home,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Goffman talks about his goals when he was writing for “The West Wing,” looking at the judicial system through a new lens in “Bull,” how he ended up working on “The Umbrella Academy,” and much more. Highlights below. 

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Highlights from “Hollywood at Home” featuring Mark Goffman – 

On his interest in policy and his goal when writing for “The West Wing”: “I love policy. I love still today just, you know, reading about it. And I feel like that’s– that was part of what I wanted to do as a writer. You know, take some of the disillusionment and some of the ideas that I’d learned both at the Kennedy School and experienced working government and really write kind of my ideal version of those. And that’s what I liked so much about getting to write and create a world as it can dictate both the themes and the ideas and what the characters go through. And hopefully, you know, shed some light on how to make the world work a little better.”

On what inspired his show “Bull”: “‘Bull’ was inspired by the life of Dr. Phil, who, prior to having his talk shows was a trial scientist, meaning his job was to help understand juries, select juries or members of juries, and then figure out how they may be swayed and how they may be voting as the trial goes on and what may be the ways to reach them. Because ultimately, every trial is about what these 12 people decide. They are the jury. So I thought that was a novel and fascinating way to look at the American judicial system, through the eyes of a jury. And, how is our system created? Who gets on juries? How do we influence them? Is that such a thing? And as I started to learn more about it, I was like, ‘This has to be a show.’ One, because, you know, I always look for a show that’s going to tell me something new, that’s going to shed new light on subject matter that you may think you know– and there’s been plenty of legal shows or been plenty of crime shows. Here was one that really delved into the world of criminal law in a way I’ve never seen before. And the characters were just fantastic, too.”

On how television scheduling evolved and the role of the showrunner in production: “So again, coming from this, this model out of the ’50s, when, you know, car manufacturers laid out their new line of cars in September, the whole television industry evolved kind of around that. So in May, all of the broadcasters take their wares and their new shows to a big presentation for Madison Avenue and the advertisers. And then it’s, you know, again, it’s evolved in the last several years. But traditionally, that’s where they would decide– the advertisers would decide– what money they were spending on shows and which shows and, and so then those shows would premiere in September. So at the upfronts, they announced ‘Bull’ and put it on, and then we have something like eight weeks from that point to crew up, build all the sets, hire all the key people– with several hundred people, you know, are going to be working on the show– as well as hire the writers and start the writers room. And ideally, you want to start production with, like, four scripts in the can. So that way, you know what the first four are, and then you’ll have another, you know, three or four in some stage of development, outlines, story areas that have been approved, that kind of thing. And so the first eight weeks are a little bit of a honeymoon because the only job you have as showrunner, aside from hiring all of those people, is to work with the writers and shaping those first several stories and getting those written.”

On how he came to work on “The Umbrella Academy”: “So, ‘Umbrella Academy’ started as a comic book written by Gerard Way, who’s the lead singer of “My Chemical Romance,” and Gabriel Bá, an amazing illustrator from Brazil. And then it became a TV series for Netflix. And Steve Blackman wrote the pilot. And that’s really when it all started, to congeal, come together. And in season one, I– at the time I had started working, I was still under contract at CBS and had been working on ‘Bull’ and some shows for them. And then I had been friendly with Steve and we’d known each other for a while. In fact, I really tried to hire him on another show that I had done previously. So we had, you know, a good working relationship. And he asked me to come on about halfway through season one to assist with the show. And we had such a blast working together that then I came on in season two as an executive producer, with him. But he’s really the, you know, the creative driving force behind the show and amazing showrunner, and he’s really fun to work with.”


More about “Hollywood at Home”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “Hollywood at Home” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at

Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), Iain Armitage (“Young Sheldon”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Aaron Cooley (“The First Lady”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Colman Domingo (“Euphoria”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Wayne Federman (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Frances Fisher (“Titanic,” “Unforgiven”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), LaMonica Garrett (“1883,” “Sons of Anarchy”) Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Nathan Kress (“iCarly”), Jaren Lewison (“Never Have I Ever”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Melissa Manchester (“Don’t Cry Out Loud”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid,” “Shameless”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Joey and Daniella Pantoliano (“The Matrix,” “Memento”), Ross Patterson (“Range 15”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Kyla Pratt (“The Proud Family”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Reid Scott (“Veep”), Paul Scheer (“The League,” “Veep”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future”), Tramell Tillman (“Severance”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” “Suddenly I See”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”). 

More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. The Creative Coalition harnesses the unique platforms of the arts community and entertainment industry to make positive impacts on social welfare issues. For more information, visit