It's an election year in 2016 and the staffers of the Bartlet Administration are back in action!
The team that brought us The West Wing reunited at the ATX Television Festival last week to celebrate the hit series, 10 years after its finale, and share behind-the-scenes secrets.
The Emmy-winning group included West Wing creator and executive producer Aaron Sorkin, executive producer and director Thomas Schlamme, and stars Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff, Dulé Hill, Joshua Malina, Janel Maloney and Melissa Fitzgerald, with executive producer Lawrence O'Donnell leading the conversation. The reunion was epic for superfans, casual viewers and new converts alike, and we're breaking down the top 10 things we learned from the epic meetup.
1. The West Wing Almost Didn’t Happen, But Was Saved by the Internet
Brace yourselves. We almost lived in a world where the only West Wing was the one in Washington D.C.
While discussing the show’s origins, Sorkin revealed that the NBC drama came "very close" to never being made. The West Wing creator, who also penned 41 episodes over the show’s first four seasons, explained that "a few minutes" after he finished the script for the pilot episode, the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke.
“We were OK sitting on it [after that],” Sorkin admitted. “[We knew] we simply can’t do this right now. People will giggle.”
Even after the network began production on the pilot, initial screenings drew lukewarm reception and the show’s tendency towards verbosity over dramatic action had some execs worried.
“‘This is just people talking,’” was a note Sorkin recalled. “They had trouble with that.”
In order to sell NBC on the series, Sorkin said, Warner Bros. Television invented four new demographics, all of them categories in which a cerebral, politically-focused show would excel: households earning more than $75,000 per year, households with at least one college graduate, households that subscribe to the New York Times, and most importantly -- at least in terms of ad revenue during the 1999 dot-com boom -- households with internet access.
"That’s what got us on the air, and if you were to go back and look at the episodes with the ads in them… well over half of our ads were for dot-coms," Sorkin revealed. "I'm grateful to the internet for getting this show on the air."
Looks like much-maligned Vice President John Hoynes (Tim Matheson) got one right after all: The internet, it’s not just a fad.
For the rest of the list of things we learned during the epic reunion, head to ETonline.com!