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It’s a good day for fans of “The West Wing.”
HBO Max and Aaron Sorkin, creator of the 1999-2006 NBC drama centered on White House employees, revealed Tuesday that the series would make a very special return.
“A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote” will feature living original cast members Rob Lowe (Sam), Dulé Hill (Charlie), Allison Janney, (C.J.) Janel Moloney (Donna), Richard Schiff (Toby), Bradley Whitfordand (Josh) and Martin Sheen (President Jed Bartlett) reprising their roles for a theatrically staged version of Season 3 episode, “Hartsfield’s Landing.”
The special will be co-produced by Sorkin, who will write new material for it, and it will be directed by Thomas Schlamme, a frequent director on the original series. Other stars will be announced at a later date.
Rob Lowe as Sam, Allison Janney as C.J. and Martin Sheen as President Bartlett in “The West Wing.” The living original cast is reuniting for a staged reproduction of a Season 3 episode on HBO Max to benefit former First Lady Michelle Obama’s nonpartisan get out the vote organization. (Photo: HBO Max)
The special is intended to raise awareness and benefit When We All Vote, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization co-chaired by former First Lady Michelle Obama, aimed at increasing voter participation for all elections. Obama and other public service figures will make appearances during the special. HBO Max parent company WarnerMedia will make a donation to When We All Vote.
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“Tommy and I are incredibly excited to be getting ‘The West Wing’ cast back together for this staged reading and to support When We All Vote in their efforts to get all of us involved in this election,” Sorkin said in a news release Tuesday.
The “Hartsfield’s Landing” episode the special will recreate takes place in the third season of “West Wing,” during President Bartlett’s reelection campaign. Josh is worried that early results from a tiny New Hampshire town will sway the press coverage of the state’s primary. Bartlett plays chess with Toby and Sam, while debating with the former about how to present himself in the campaign and educating the latter in diplomacy. C.J. and Charlie engage in an escalating prank war.
The episode doesn’t prominently feature Bartlett’s chief of staff Leo McGarry, originally played by John Spencer. Spencer died in 2005 while filming the final season of “West Wing.” HBO Max did not announce if a different actor would take on the role for the special.
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Though HBO Max did not announce on what date the special will air, it will be filmed in October at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, and will follow COVID Safe Way Forward production protocols recommended by Hollywood unions like the Screen Actors Guild.
The seven seasons of “The West Wing” are currently available to stream on Netflix.
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