HBO Max announced last month, after months of speculation from series star Richard Schiff, that it was staging a West Wing reunion with the original Emmy winning cast. Yesterday, in honor of National Voter Registration Day, the streaming platform announced that the reunion will be aired on October 15th, just two weeks from Election Day. Not only that, HBO Max also released some new information about the special, including high profile guests and two special performances for the episode.
The reunion special, entitled A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote, will feature the return of W.G. Snuffy Walden, composer for the original series’ seven-year run, will play the iconic theme song he created with the help of his trusty guitar. Also performing at the end of the episode will be the Avett Brothers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans of the show. The West Wing has featured several stunning uses of both popular and classic rock songs to make poignant statements in the show. Two of the most famous are “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits, which closed out the iconic season two finale “Two Cathedrals,” as well as “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley, which closed out the third season finale “Posse Comitatus.”
Joining the original cast will be Michelle Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Bill Clinton. Obama is co-chair for the When We All Vote organization which this special will benefit. Obama, Miranda, and Clinton will appear during the episode’s act breaks which means this will be a three-act staging of the season three episode “Hartsfield’s Landing.”
Series creator Aaron Sorkin penned the script and added bits exclusive to the reunion. Marlee Matlin (Joey Lucas) and Emily Procter (Ainsley Hayes) join the original episode cast Martin Sheen, Richard Schiff, Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Dule Hill, Janel Moloney, and Rob Lowe. While it hasn’t been confirmed yet, it’s presumed their characters were written into the episode in the new exclusive content. Also joining the cast–presumably stepping into the role of Leo McGarry–is Sterling K. Brown, seen here in a cast photo to mark the beginning of filming.
Original series star John Spencer, who won an Emmy for his performance as McGarry, died in 2005. While this bit of casting hasn’t been confirmed, Sorkin revealed in a West Wing Weekly podcast episode that if he were to reboot the series, he’d want Brown in as the president. So, who knows. Hopefully, we will get confirmation of Brown as McGarry soon. Until then, take this as a grain of salt. (Also, there has been no talk of a reboot, but stranger things have happened this year. So, again, who knows?)
Series director Thomas Schlamme is also returning to direct the staging. Lyn Paolo, the original series costume designer, has also returned.
For those who need a refresher on the episode, here is TV Line’s synopsis of “Hartsfield’s Landing:”
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.
Mark your calendars for October 15th and cross your fingers that this reunion will generate enough interest in a reboot. Because I, personally, would love to see where these characters are nearly 15 years into the future.
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