According to recent comments, it seems that the critically acclaimed show The West Wing, which was created by Aaron Sorkin, could be just the latest in a series of television reboots. One would imagine, if it actually happens, that the focus will shift to a new administration, and away from Martin Sheen’s President Jed Bartlet.
Richard Schiff, who played communications director Toby Ziegler on the series, appeared on the I Could Never Be podcast hosted at Popcorn Talk Network, and offered, “Aaron has said he wanted it to happen. [He] might go with a new administration, in which case, you know, some of us might show up as consultants. It makes no sense for us to be in the White House.”
Even back during the show’s original run, there had been discussions of really shaking things up in such a way as to move things in a very different direction. As Martin Sheen once told journalist James Dyer, “There had been some very serious talk about extending the series and I was asked would I be interested. I said of course, that maybe I could be like a Jimmy Carter where the new President would send me into the Third World or who knows where. I would appear every now and then as a former President.”
Schiff explained that he has some concepts of his own that he shared with Sorkin, who apparently responded well to them. Most notable among them, that action shifts away from the White House. “My image of a show in the White House now is something like House of Cards — which is more apropos for the current administration — and Veep. You know, you combine Veep and House of Cards and you’ve got this administration… [But] where does politics really happen? And that’s the question. And especially in this era, where there’s such excitement on the grassroots level and on the local levels. It really all happens on the state level.”
Last year, NBC, which aired the original series, approached Sorkin about the possibility of a limited series revival. His response? “If I can come up with an idea that works, then yeah.”
Whether or not a reboot happens, everyone involved seems pretty satisfied with the legacy they’ve already left. In an interview with Empire, Aaron commented, “When we were doing the show our goal was nothing grander than to entertain you for however long we’d asked for your attention. It’s understatement to say that it’s gratifying to all of us that the show has a life in DVD box sets and Netflix. That people who were in grade school when the show was on the air are coming to it now like it’s new. And that there are young people who say they got into public service because of the show. I’m proud that we were on at the same time as shows like The Sopranos and E.R. and Six Feet Under and The Practice and N.Y.P.D. Blue. During one of our monthly cast lunches in the first season, Brad Whitford said, ‘No matter what we do from here on out, this show is the first line of our obits.’ Martin [Sheen], who was in Apocalypse Now, said, ‘I’m good with that.’ Me, too.”
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