Concept

Toby Ziegler

Summary
Tobias "Toby" Zachary Ziegler is a fictional character in the television serial drama The West Wing, played by Richard Schiff. The role of Toby Ziegler earned actor Richard Schiff the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2000. For most of the series' duration, he is White House Communications Director. In the final season, Ziegler is involved in a storyline around a leak of classified information, which The New York Times compared to the leak investigation of the Valerie Plame affair. According to series creator Aaron Sorkin, Schiff was cast in the role of Toby Ziegler over many other actors who auditioned, including Eugene Levy. Schiff created a backstory for the character as a widower and wore his own wedding ring, something Sorkin and fellow executive producer Thomas Schlamme, who were planning for the character to be divorced, did not notice until the show's eighth episode. "I had always imagined that his first wife had died, which accounts for his sadness, and why someone would devote himself to public service and be so singular about it", Schiff said. "But then, Aaron and Tommy threw that right out the window." Schiff had publicly praised the show's writers, and creator Aaron Sorkin in particular, for the richness of the characters in the series. However, during the show's final season, Schiff said he felt let down by the writers as some of his episodes were cut "purely on a financial decision." He was particularly critical of the military shuttle leak storyline, which saw his character indicted for leaking classified information. "Toby would never in 10 million years have betrayed the president in that fashion," Schiff said. "Even if he had, there would have been seven episodes' worth of fights before he did it." He justified the story to himself by reasoning that Toby was covering for somebody else. Tobias Zachary Ziegler was born on December 23, 1954. He is from a working-class background and grew up in Brighton Beach, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, from a Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jewish family.
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