Whiffenpoofs Journey to Hollywood for West Wing Appearance

The Yale connection to the White House gets even stronger on Sunday when the Whiffenpoofs, Yale’s all-male a cappella singing group, fly to Burbank, California, to film a segment for NBC’s Emmy award-winning drama series “The West Wing.”

Vikram Swamy, the Whiffs business manager, said that series creator and producer Aaron Sorkin called him on Wednesday night to ask if the group could come out to California and film the segment, set to air on December 11 on NBC, the series’ Christmas show. Swamy checked his schedule and booked the gig at Warner Brothers Studios, where the series is filmed.

Though Swamy couldn’t reveal the show’s plot, he said the Whiffs will make more than a cameo appearance in a concert set in the White House, where the show’s “president,” Josiah Bartlett, played by actor Martin Sheen, will join them and listen to the concert. Swamy said the performance would be “more substantial” than a few seconds of background footage and, in fact, may end up with more than one song on film.

The Whiffs have been in the spotlight recently. Swamy and fellow Whiff Courtney Williams appeared in a segment in the November 7 episode of “The Caroline Rhea Show,” filmed on Old Campus and in Wooster Street pizza parlors. The November 19 episode of “Gilmore Girls,” featuring actor Edward Hermann as grandfather Richard Gilmore, has him bragging about being a Yale alumnus and a former member of the Whiffs. Swamy said the group will also appear on the December 8 edition of “The Today Show,” which is broadcast live from Rockefeller Center in New York.

Every year, 14 senior Yale men are selected to be the Whiffenpoofs, the world’s oldest and best-known collegiate a cappella group. Founded in 1909, the “Whiffs” began as a senior quartet that met for weekly concerts at Mory’s Temple Bar, the famous Yale tavern. Today, the group has become one of Yale’s most celebrated and hallowed traditions.

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