'Madam Secretary' offers two plugs for Pittsfield

To the editor:

I love discovering how the world finds us here in Pittsfield. On Sunday, March 8, the TV series "Madam Secretary" starring Tea Leoni and Tim Daly planned to send the secretary of state (Leoni) to Pittsfield to deliver a graduation speech on the lawn at U-Mass-Pittsfield (a place that I know — I mean, really know — doesn't exist). Still it was a fascinating fictional construct and got our city onto prime-time television.

Imagine my surprise when, in the same opening segment, there were five allusions to "Moby-Dick," written in Pittsfield in 1850-1851 and then a specific reference to its author, Herman Melville. "Enough Melville references," said the character listening to all the white whale (substituting for white elephant) comments. While I was amused and delighted by all of this, I was also struck with how glib it all was. Creator/author Barbara Hall was clearly making a point but what exactly she was after was never clear.

Still, it was a delight to have our city and its most famous resident and his most famous creation spoken of so often in the 8 p.m. hour on network TV. It is this sort of thing that gets people curious and that's always good. I suppose one should also thank the show's story editor, Alexander Maggio. Either he or Hall know we're here, and for that, we're grateful.


Peter Bergman, Pittsfield The writer is director of Communications and Community Relations for the Berkshire County Historical Society at Herman Melville's Arrowhead, 780 Holmes Road.