US politics ripe for West Wing revival, says Janney

By Andrew Bucklow

The West Wing wrapped in 2006 after seven seasons having forged a close relationship with the White House and counting former US President Bill Clinton among its biggest fans.
The West Wing wrapped in 2006 after seven seasons having forged a close relationship with the White House and counting former US President Bill Clinton among its biggest fans.

'It would be just a great time for West Wing now, for whoever is disillusioned by what's going on today."

That's what Allison Janney had to say to Variety about bringing back The West Wing, the political drama which ended after seven seasons in 2006.

But does the actress, who played White House press secretary C.J. Cregg, think the gang would be willing to get back together?

"Everyone wants to, but really, how could we do that?" she said. "We're all too old!"

"They could do it with a whole new cast, and Aaron [Sorkin, the show's creator] should. I know everyone fell in love with our characters, and I love that, but it seems like West Wing should be filled with young, idealistic, visionary people. Maybe, I don't know, they could give us some other jobs in the White House."

Still, Janney is convinced that the viewing public would welcome the show back to TV, given the circus that is the current US political environment.

"But gosh, it would be just a great time for West Wing now, for whoever is disillusioned by what's going on today," she said.

"Those are the people you want working in Washington: people whose hearts are in the right place, people who reach across the aisle, people who want to do the right thing. It was a great show. I wish we could do it. Believe me, I wish we could."

For all the West Wing nerds out there, here are some things you might not know about the show:

Potus

It's almost inconceivable that anyone else apart from Martin Sheen could have played President Josiah Bartlet.

But according to the show's former executive producer, Thomas Schlamme, Sidney Poitier was the first choice to play the President.

"Martin didn't seem right at first," Schlamme told EW.

"He had played chief of staff in The American President, and Aaron Sorkin and I thought it might be confusing to audiences."

Poitier was reportedly demanding an outrageous salary for the TV gig, so in the end Sheen got the role.

Security threat

According to IMDB, The West Wing set was so realistic that the Secret Service didn't want Warner Bros tour groups to be allowed to see inside.

At the time, the set was the largest ever constructed for a TV show.

The Jackal

In the first season, White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg lip synchs The Jackal much to the amusement of her co-workers.

This all came about after the show's creator, Sorkin, walked past Janney's trailer one day and saw her performing the song.

He wrote it into the show and apparently Janney's first take was so good that Sorkin asked her to redo it in a less convincing way.

Noise complaint

When The West Wing was filmed in Washington D.C, they recorded at night so that they could avoid having to deal with tourists.

But one night they were a little bit too loud.

"I wasn't there," said Martin Sheen to Readers Digest, "but they were in Georgetown filming at [three] in the morning, and this irate lady came out in a bathrobe with a bunch of guys."

According to Sheen, the woman was yelling. "What the hell's going on? I have an early morning at the State Department. And, by the way, you people don't even have a Secretary of State on your show. And I think you should have one and it should be a woman."

It turns out that the angry lady was Madeleine Albright, who was the US Secretary of State from 1997-2001.

Just months after the altercation, Sorkin introduced a new character, a female National Security Adviser called Dr. Nancy McNally.

Real life C.J.

The character of C.J. Cregg was loosely based on Dee Dee Myers, who was a White House Press Secretary for President Clinton. Myers was a consultant on The West Wing.

Bill Clinton was a huge fan

Josiah Bartlet was loosely based on former President Clinton.

"President Clinton was a big fan of the show and one of my heroes," Sheen told Readers Digest.

"So we had almost carte blanche.

"We got into the White House any time we wanted ... And members of his staff were always making contact."

Series ending

The seventh season wrapped up with Democrat Matthew Santos (played by Jimmy Smits) defeating Republican Arnold Vinnick (played by Alan Alda) in an extremely close presidential election. But it turns out that it was originally going to be a Republican victory.

The show's creators only decided that Santos would win after actor John Spencer (who played vice-president nominee Leo McGarry) passed away.

They thought that the death of one of the show's most loved characters, combined with a Republican win, would be too much to bear for fans of the show.

- news.com.au

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