What's that? You didn't get a chance to watch Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, and Bradley Whitford (with Sterling K. Brown stepping in for the late John Spencer in the role of Leo McGarry) reunite with original series creator Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme for HBO Max's A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote because you're not a subscriber and your streaming service funds can only stretch so far? With only a week to go until Election Day, HBO Max has you covered with a free reminder of why your vote matters: from now until the end of 2020, non-HBO Max subscribers can head over here to screen the special for free.
Here's a look back at the trailer for what the folks behind The West Wing called more than just a promo for a staged reading. It's a call to action…
Filming over several days at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles and premiering on October 15th, the special featured a theatrical performance of "Hartsfield's Landing," the famous third season episode that finds Sheen's President Bartlet playing chess against Sam (Lowe) and Toby (Schiff) as the Chinese play war games in the Taiwan Strait. Meanwhile, Josh (Whitford) stresses the 42 votes in a remote New Hampshire town's election- an election that always predicts the winner of that state's primary. Sorkin wrote original material for the special, with Schlamme directing.
While the cast and creative team have reunited in the past for panels, podcasts, late-night sketches, and even election campaign ads, this was the first time that a reunion of this size and scope aired on television. "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," said Sorkin when the event was first announced.
Along with giving fans a chance to revisit one of their favorite series, the special also raised awareness and support for When We All Vote, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization co-chaired by former First Lady Michelle Obama which was founded to increase participation in U.S. elections (with WarnerMedia making a donation to the organization). Obama made a guest appearance during the special, as did President Bill Clinton and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Viewers were also treated to the musical talents of Emmy award-winning composer W.G. Snuffy Walden, who took to his guitar to play the score for The West Wing theme. Folk-rock band The Avett Brothers closed out the special. Casey Patterson Entertainment and Warner Horizon Unscripted Television produced, with Sorkin, Schlamme, and Casey Patterson executive producing, and Rob Paine co-executive producing.