‘The West Wing’ Will Return For an HBO Max Special This Fall
For the first time in 17 years, the original cast of The West Wing is reuniting. Rob Lowe, Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and Martin Sheen will all appear in what’s being called A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote, which, according to the press release, is “a non-profit, nonpartisan organization co-chaired by Michelle Obama which was founded to increase participation in every election in America.” Series creator Aaron Sorkin is involved as a producer of the special; longtime West Wing director Thomas Schlamme will direct. The finished product will premiere this fall on HBO Max.
The special will be shot “over multiple days at the iconic Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles in early October,” and will essentially be a staged version of the Season 3 episode “Hartsfield's Landing” and also include a “special message from Michelle Obama.” If you don’t remember the episode, which premiered in February of 2002, here’s a description provided by HBO Max:
Bartlet (Martin Sheen) engages both Sam (Rob Lowe) and Toby (Richard Schiff) in intricate chess matches that mirror the wily game of brinksmanship that Bartlet is playing with the Chinese, who are conducting war games in the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese threaten real war if Taiwan begins test firing its new U.S.-made Patriot defense missiles. Meanwhile, Josh (Bradley Whitford) is nervous about the 42 votes in a remote New Hampshire town's election, which are counted immediately and always predict the winner of that state's primary. Mischievous C.J. (Allison Janney) tries to upset Charlie (Dulé Hill) by hiding his copy of the President's top-secret daily schedule — prompting a spate of playful tricks. The episode was written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Vincent Misiano.
The West Wing ran for seven seasons in the late 90s and early 2000s, with Sorkin departing after writing almost every single episode in the first four years. Given its tone and themes it can be a little surreal watching it just 15 years later in our divided, angry country. It will be fascinating to view an old episode in that modern context — and to see how the material translates to a stage.
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