Actor Patrick Dempsey to Fix Political Gridlock in New CBS Pilot

February 11, 2020 by Kate Michael
Patrick Dempsey meets fans prior to heading back to the Martinez hotel in Cannes, France, during the 64th Cannes Film Festival, Thursday, May 19, 2011. (Hahn-Nebinger-Genin/Abaca Press/MCT)

WASHINGTON — News around Capitol Hill last week was that actor Patrick Dempsey would be starring in a new political drama.  

The CBS pilot plot, originally named “The Whip” has since had a title change to “Ways & Means,” but is believed to have little to do with the actual House Ways & Means Committee, a committee which has jurisdiction over tax, trade, health care, welfare, and social security. 

Dempsey will play a member of Congress disillusioned by political gridlock, who wants to “save American politics” through bipartisan legislation.

Republican strategist Mike Murphy scripted the show’s pilot and is working as executive producer alongside Ed Redlich (Without a Trace). 

According to the CBS longline for the potential hour-long series, Ways & Means is about “a powerful Congressional leader who has lost faith in politics [and] finds himself working secretly with an idealistic young Congresswoman from the opposing party to subvert the hopelessly gridlocked system he helped create; together they’ll attempt to save American politics… if they don’t get caught.” 

But while this series — and indeed most of the American public — have come to see gridlock as a problem that needs to be solved, not all politicians and policy analysts agree. Some see it as a moderating process. And at least one Supreme Court Justice actually praised its efficiency.

“Gridlock is what our system is designed for,” said Antonin Scalia, the longest serving judge on the Supreme Court, back in 2011. 

“I hear Americans saying this…” Scalia said in an on-the-record discussion at the now-defunct Newseum, “They talk about dysfunctional government because there’s disagreement — and the Framers would have said ‘Yes! That’s exactly the way we set it up. We wanted this to be power contradicting power’ because the main ill that besets us, as Hamilton said in The Federalist… is an excess of legislation.” 

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