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Neelamani Sampat, commonly called Neal, is a member of the News Night staff and is responsible for writing the blog of the show's anchor Will McAvoy.


Neal was born in the United Kingdom, his father was a mechanic.

Earlier Reporting Career[]

On July 7, 2005, Neal was traveling on the London Underground when one of the three bombs exploded. Like many, Neal tried to contact his family, failing to do so as there was no signal available. Instead, Neal video recorded the events on his phone, and later emailed the footage to a televisions news station in London. At this point, Neal knew he had a future in journalism.

News Night[]

Loyalty to Will McAvoy[]

He is one of the staff members who chose to remain with anchor Will McAvoy after the latter went on a highly-publicized rant during a question and answer session at Northwestern University. Executive Producer Don Keefer and the majority of the staff choose to move to the newly-created ten o' clock program featuring Elliot Hirsch. Neal is irritated by Don and Will's assistant Margaret Jordan discussing their personal relationship in front of his desk. ("We Just Decided To")

Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion[]

New Executive Producer MacKenzie McHale brings Jim Harper with her to act as a senior producer. Jim and Neal are the first to realize that the British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion will lead to an environmental disaster and they quickly form an alliance. Jim and Neal convince Will to focus the show on the story despite resistance from Don. Will is shocked to discover that he even has a blog and does not know Neal's name. Neal assists Jim in further reporting the story, gathering technical information on Deepwater Horizon to shed light on the severity of the disaster. Neal's instincts are what inform him to tell Will, MacKenzie and Charlie that the oil spill will be one of the worst environmental disasters in history. ("We Just Decided To")

When MacKenzie is looking for an expert geologist Don has no suggestions. Neal has already lined up two candidates; Dr. James Morris from MIT and Dr. Marvin Hasbrook from Stanford. She tasks him with contacting them. Morris later appears on the show, which is a resounding success. ("We Just Decided To")

News Night 2.0[]

Unhappy with the way ACN and News Night was covering the news, Mac proposed "News Night 2.0", a complete overhaul of the way the news was covered based on three "I"s: 1) Is this information we need in the voting booth? 2) Is this the best possible form of the argument? 3) Is the story in historical context?

Neal pitches an interview with an illegal immigrant whose driver's license was taken after a newspaper story about him was published. Mac shoots down the idea as not being the type of interview that fits in the show's new format.

The show's first broadcast with the new approach is a complete disaster, due to the both the inexperience of the staff and the friction between Mac and Will; Maggie having botched a pre-interview with the governor of Arizona's office that resulted in all of the guests the show needed to argue in favor of SB1070 pulling out at the last minute, leaving the discussion over the bill unbalanced. The best they were able to book last-minute were three completely irrelevant and unqualified individuals who strayed entirely off topic.

The staff licks their wounds at a karaoke bar after the broadcast. Jim reprimands the staff. Will calls Neal about the immigrant who had his driving license revoked. He has Neal inform the person that Will will privately pay for a cab for the man's commute. ("News Night 2.0")

On air apology[]

Will decides to issue an on air apology for his failings as anchor of News Night following the disastrous broadcast. He recruits Neal to help him to craft the speech, alongside Maggie Jordan, Jim Harper, and MacKenzie McHale. Neal ends a sexual encounter with his girlfriend to answer Will's call and leaves to go in to the office. The apology aired at the opening of the show on Monday, April 26, 2010. ("The 112th Congress")

Coverage of the Tea Party[]

News Night focuses a portion of its coverage on the Tea Party and their views, funding and co-opting of the Republican Party. The incisive coverage culminates with a live broadcast in November 2010 on the day of the 112th Congressional elections where the Tea Party win many seats.

Neal urges his friend and colleague Jim to pursue his feelings for Maggie while she has broken up with Don. However, they get back together before Jim acts. ("The 112th Congress")

End of 2010[]

At the News Night New Year's Eve party on December 31, 2010 Jim spends the evening looking for stories that the show might have missed during the year. Neal is trying to convince him (and everyone else) to run a story on the true existence of Bigfoot.

The staff meet the next day and decide to pursue stories about misrepresentation; particularly of both The President's gun control record and his diplomatic trip to India. Neal's Bigfoot story is shot down. ("I'll Try to Fix You")

Gabrielle Giffords shooting[]

On Saturday January 8, 2011 Neal assembles the staff to pitch his Bigfoot story again. Maggie and Jim argue in front of the staff over Jim's lie about continuing to date her room mate Lisa Lambert. Jim punishes Maggie's insubordination by putting her on the assignment desk for the day.

Maggie breaks up the meeting to announce the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Neal helps to report the story. During the show's coverage, a false report spreads on Fox, CNN and MSNBC that the Congresswoman is dead. Reese Lansing charges into the studio to convince Will to report her death but Will refuses. Moments later reports that she is alive and in surgery are confirmed. ("I'll Try to Fix You")

February 2011[]

News Night covers civil unrest in Cairo after the Egyptian president refuses to leave his post despite losing the election. Elliot Hirsch travels to Cairo to report from the scene but is forced to remain inside when riots break out. After the show, Neal raises the idea of using a stringer in Cairo to get better coverage, having already established contact with someone using the alias "Amen". Mac convinces him to use his real name to give him credibility and his first appearance goes well.

Don gets word that Elliot went out into the riots and was attacked. Elliot is battered but alive, and on his way back to the USA.

Neal loses contact with Amen and fears that something has happened to him. Elliot is welcomed back to the newsroom by the staff.

The staff meet to discuss the Koch brothers story but Neal interrupts to say that Amen is definitely missing. Charlie hosts a crisis meeting and the senior staff go to demand help from Reese Lansing, who proves to be out of the building after Don tries to knock down his door. Neal is so upset over putting Amen in danger that he punches a monitor, breaking both it and his hand.

The staff struggle to locate Amen while also prepping their next show. Neal discovers that Amen is in Egyptian military custody and that they are demanding an extortionate ransom.

Will pays for Amen's release. Mac arranges for the staff to each give Will a cheque to contribute, mimicking a scene from one of Will's favorite films, Rudy. Neal re-establishes contact with the newly freed Amen. ("Amen")

April 2011[]

Will conducts a disastrous interview with Sutton Wall, the homosexual former Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Rick Santorum. He ends the show by reading out website comments lauding Will's attack on Wall. Neal apologizes to Will afterwards, saying that the comments were the best available. Will is chagrined and decides to introduce a registration policy for website comments to remove the safety of anonymity. Neal helps to explain how this is possible.

Will interviews Phylis Greer about the building of a Muslim community centre at Ground Zero in New York. This is quickly followed by Will receiving a death threat from someone who has hacked into the site, to Neal's shock and amazement. Greer, and the hacker, were vehemently against the idea. The threat causes Will's insurance company to insist on Lonny Church guarding him. ("Bullies")

Behind the scenes[]

Neal is a major character in the first and second seasons. He is played by starring cast member Dev Patel and debuts in the series pilot "We Just Decided To".


Season 1
"We Just Decided To" "News Night 2.0" "The 112th Congress" "I'll Try to Fix You" "Amen"
"Bullies" "5/1" "The Blackout Part I: Tragedy Porn" "The Blackout Part II: Mock Debate" "The Greater Fool"
Season 2
"First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers" "The Genoa Tip" "Willie Pete" "Unintended Consequences" "News Night with Will McAvoy"
"One Step Too Many" "Red Team III" "Election Night, Part I" "Election Night, Part II"
Season 3
"Boston" "Run" "Main Justice" "Contempt" "Oh Shenandoah"
"What Kind of Day Has It Been"