The cast and crew of The West Wing TV show reunited a little more than 10 years after the TV series finale, this weekend, in Austin, TX. The reunion took place at the ATX Television Festival panel celebrating NBC‘s acclaimed political drama.
Creator and Executive Producer Aaron Sorkin and Director/EP Thomas Schlamme — who left the series after its fourth season — appeared, as did cast members Bradley Whitford, Dulé Hill, Janel Moloney, Joshua Malina, Richard Schiff, and Melissa Fitzgerald. MSNBC‘s Lawrence O’Donnell, who wrote 16 episodes of The West Wing, moderated the panel, at the Paramount Theatre, pictured below, on the right.
Sorkin said The West Wing almost never made it to air. As soon as he finished scripting the pilot, news of the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. After it was shot, NBC screened the pilot for test audiences. Their response left the network “on the fence” about picking it up.
Deadline reports, “To ease the fear, Warner Bros ‘decided to invent four new demographics that had never been used on television before’. One new key demographic – in 1999 – was ‘households with internet access. It was right in the middle of the dot com boom… and those businesses wanted a place to advertise. That’s what got us on the air’.”
The panelists paid tribute to the late John Spencer, who died in 2005 at the age of 58. Spencer played Leo McGarry, White House Chief of Staff, and later Senior Counselor to the President. Spencer passed away after filming five episodes of The West Wing‘s seventh and final season. Leo’s death was written into the story, in response to the actor’s death.
Here is more, from Deadline:
Throughout the banter, the cast and creatives made it a point to pay homage to the late actor John Spencer. “The man was a gentlemen among gentleman besides being an extraordinary professional,” Schlamme said. “There was an internal, extraordinary loving quality that superseded the professionalism that he had.” He also praised Spencer’s performance. “If you look up the definition of an actor, you’ll see his picture. His craft was so important to him and that craft did not ever take away from him being a loving human being.”
Here is a picture of The West Wing TV series reunion, from the ATX Festival Instagram account.
What do you think? Are you a fan of The West Wing TV series? Would you watch a West Wing sequel movie?