With only ten days to go until HBO Max's A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote reunites Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, and Bradley Whitford with original series creator Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme to encourage people to get out and vote this November, fans are learning who will be playing the role left behind by the late John Spencer. This Is Us star Sterling K. Brown will be taking on the role of Leo McGarry, beloved and embattled Chief of Staff to Sheen's President Bartlett over the course of 155 episodes. In 2005, the Emmy Award-winning actor died of a heart attack while in the middle of shooting the show's seventh and final season.
Filming over several days at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles and set to premiere on the streaming service on October 15th, the special will feature a theatrical performance of "Hartsfield's Landing," the famous third season episode that finds Sheen's President Barlet 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 will write original material for the special, with Schlamme serving as director.
While the cast and creative team have reunited in the past for panels, podcasts, late-night sketches, and even election campaign ads, this is the first time that a reunion of this size and scope will air 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 is also meant to raise awareness for and support 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 will make a guest appearance in the special, along with President Bill Clinton and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Viewers will also be treated to the musical talents of Emmy award-winning composer W.G. Snuffy Walden, who will take to his guitar to play the score for The West Wing theme. Folk-rock band The Avett Brothers will close out the special. Casey Patterson Entertainment and Warner Horizon Unscripted Television produce, with Sorkin, Schlamme, and Casey Patterson executive producing, and Rob Paine co-executive producing.