The original cast of The West Wing is reuniting for the first time in 17 years for HBO Max.
A stage presentation based on the Aaron Sorkin series, which aired from 1999 to 2006 on NBC, will debut on the new streaming service this fall, HBO Max announced today. The special will revisit the episode Hartsfield’s Landing from the show’s third season, which centers on a fictional small town that is one of the first to declare its election results in state and federal elections.
Original cast members Rob Lowe, Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and Martin Sheen will all reprise their roles from the episode, which is designed to raise awareness for voter participation with When We All Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit founded by former first lady Michelle Obama. To that end, the special—titled A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote—will also feature guest appearances from Obama, along with additional special guests and cast members yet to be announced.
WarnerMedia will make a donation to the nonprofit, although the amount wasn’t disclosed.
“With A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote, we are excited to revisit this legendary series and offer our passionate fans something that is substantial, meaningful and unforgettable, while also promoting an important message for our time,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, said in a statement. “Combined with WarnerMedia’s donation to When We All Vote, this special not only entertains but also help ensure the organization can carry forth its mission to increase voter participation in every election.”
The special is slated to film over the course of several days in early October at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles, and production will follow Covid-19 protocols as set forth by Hollywood unions including SAG-Aftra and DGA. Sorkin is writing and executive producing the special, along with producer/director Thomas Schlamme, who will also serve as director of the production.
“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,” Sorkin said in a statement.
The special will give HBO Max another flashy original special to help boost the new service, which had a rocky debut in May with brand confusion, but has since met executives’ first-year projections for new subscribers. It also marks yet another special in a year that has been seemingly chock-full of them: NBC comedies 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation both filmed reunion specials this year, with Parks and Recreation’s benefiting the nonprofit Feeding America. There have been nearly a dozen more, ranging from Zoom-only reunions of shows like Schitt’s Creek to table reads for shows like CBS sitcom Nanny and NBC dramedy Chuck.
It’s also the second high-profile reunion slated to appear on HBO Max. The streamer had originally planned for a flashy Friends reunion special to premiere at the same time as HBO Max’s May debut, but Covid-19 production delays pushed that project to an undisclosed date.