On October 15th, President Bartlet's administration will reconvene once again when 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 Sterling K. Brown stepping in for the late John Spencer in the role of Leo McGarry) with original series creator Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme to get out the vote this November. To honor the occasion, The Late Show host and avid series fan Stephen Colbert dedicated a special Friday edition of the late-night talk show to invite Janney, Schiff, Sheen, Whitford, and Sorkin to discuss the project, look back on the series' influence, and offer their thoughts on the current state of disarray that is Trump's White House.
First up, a look at how the opening credits would look in a bizarro world version of The West Wing that was about the Trump crew- set in the same kind of "hot zone superspreader petri dish" White House as the one we have in the real world:
In this first clip, Colbert welcomes his guests as they segue into a discussion over Trump, Bartlet, and who actually had the most "dramatic" presidency. For us? Bartlet took on outside challenges, while Trump's problems are self-inflicted:
In this next clip, we learn why "Hartsfield Landing" was an appropriate choice for today's time, and how it felt performing the episode without the late John Spencer:
In this clip, Janney channels her inner CJ Cregg as she explains the importance of the event beyond being a series reunion:
Now it's time for Colbert to put them on the spot, asking each to name their favorite episodes as well as what characteristics they were looking to bring to and bring out of their characters:
Finally, Sorkin explains why the characters on the series were so easy for viewers to understand and make a connection with, and then we have an incredibly cool end-monologue from Colbert penned by none other than Sorkin himself:
Here's your look at the trailer for what the folks behind The West Wing are calling 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 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 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 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.