Though others may try to replicate, there's no replacing The West Wing. It was the first show about the White House that caught our attention, and although we got seven seasons of the series, it wasn't enough.
There are some things even the most hardcore West Wing fan may not know, however. See if your knowledge can stack up!
1. The Internet Made "West Wing" Possible
"The pilot did not test off the charts with focus groups," said creator Aaron Sorkin. "It tested fine, but it wasn't forcing NBC to put it on the air. Where it tested very high was in four categories that they invented for this show: Households making over $75,000 a year; households where someone has three years of college; people who subscribe to the New York Times; and the final category – and this was in 1999 – was people with home internet access. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was a big deal then. In 1999 it was the height of the dot com boom, so people with home internet access were a valuable demographic to reach. That first season more than half the ad buys were dot com. They needed some place to advertise. It was those four categories that got us on the air."
2. Josh Malina Saved Aaron Sorkin From Choking To Death
Talk about being teacher's pet! Malin and Sorkin were at a Broadway Bowling Alley when Sorkin started to choke, but Malina thought it was a joke.
"The guys from A Few Good Men would bowl against the guys from A Chorus Line and hilarity would ensue," Malina recalled. "At one of these bowling nights Aaron started choking on a piece of hamburger. He seemed to be doing schtick for a little bit and we kind of pointed and laughed until it became clear this was really happening. It was one of the rare crisis situations where I reacted with any kind of aplomb and I Heimlich'd him – although with no finesse whatsoever and I cracked three of his ribs in the process."
3. The Show That Almost Wasn't
Can you imagine this show by any other name? It almost wasn't an imagination! Sorkin just barely got the rights to the title.
"When Aaron sent me the script for the pilot, he didn't actually own the title," said Dee Dee Myers, the political adviser on the show, and former press secretary. "In fact, a guy who had worked for me at the White House named Josh King had registered the title 'The West Wing' for something he was working on. Sometime during that year before production began, though, whatever Josh King was working on didn't happen and the title became available. I don't know what Aaron would have called the show if it hadn't."
4. Attendance Mandatory
Director Thomas Schlamme wanted everyone to feel like the show was real, so he mandated that all cast members be present for shooting the pilot.
"One of the things that I had demanded on the pilot was whenever we're shooting a scene, everybody should show up," Schlamme recalled. "You wouldn't do a whole series like that, but because doors would be open and glass would be seen, I wanted people to go into their office and live their life, even if they weren't in the scene. So when Rob Lowe is in the Roosevelt Room giving the lecture to the young kids and then goes out with Leo's daughter, you can see Allison and Richard Schiff in the background – they're background artists! They weren't in the scene, they weren't even coming into a scene later; they're just there. Allison's going into Richard's office, Richard's coming out and getting something from his receptionist, they're just getting on with their jobs. It was a really important exercise for everybody to start to feel that this was their home. You felt the true sense of esprit de corps working on that show from day one.
5. Love For Allison Janney
Just like we all love her, the entire cast loved Allison Janney.
"You know, there was a survey done and all of us, all the players, were interviewed and we were asked, confidentially, who we thought the best actor on the series was," Martin Sheen revealed. "As long as we were assured it was confidential we all gave our opinions, which would not be made known until after the series ended. Without a dissenting opinion, the entire cast voted Allison the very best among us. She didn't know it and none of us knew that we'd all voted for her, but she was considered the very best."