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October 10, 2015

West Wing retrospective scuttled over actors' pay

by Joel Keller, posted May 9th 2006 3:54PM
West Wing castWell, now, at least we know why there's not going to be a West Wing retrospective this Sunday. And -- surprise, surprise! -- the reason is money. According to Lisa de Moraes of The Washington Post (among other sources), more than one of the primary WW players balked at the low amount of money NBC and Warner Bros. was offering to them to do the clip/reminiscing show, originally scheduled air before Sunday's series finale. So, instead of breaking the bank to create a show that will air at 7 PM on a Sunday, the two parties decided to just air the show's 1999 pilot instead.

Judging by the tone of de Moraes' article, she isn't taking the actors' side. I don't blame her; all they're doing is sitting and talking about the show that paid them handsomely for seven years. If it were me, I'd be so grateful for the opportunity WW gave me (before this, for example, Allison Janney was best known for a New York Lottery commercial and a small role in Private Parts), I'd do the retrospective for scale. But I'm just a lowly blogger, so what do I know?

[Thanks to Karen for the tip.]

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daphne hargrove

Just wanted to agree with that last posting--the show would have bounced back from some slippage last year if NBC had not moved it to Sunday night at 8 p.m.--! Impossible slot. For years and years the show is on Wed at 9, and more than once I remembered it was on Sunday but had 9 in my head, so turned it on just as it was ending. If NBC had just left the show in its original slot, it would have done fine, and I think Jimmy Smits and co. would have drawn in a new audience as well as gaining the interest of the old timers. Considering how horrible so many of the newer so-called reality shows, and embarrassingly bad dating shows, and fix-it shows are, it is hard to forgive NBC for killing West Wing.

May 25 2006 at 6:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If I was a cast member of a show that had been unfairly cancelled, scheduled poorly and generally jerked around, and the offending network asked me to sit down and do a doc for free, I'd tell them to stuff it. This show was nowhere near over and could have really turned a corner with the great acting of the "new administration". Good for them. NBC should step off - they really DON'T know what they're doing.

May 19 2006 at 4:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't forget CJ (Allison) had a bit role in Primary Colors too. She played the librarian that Travolta (Clinton) had one of his many trists with on the campaign trail towards the beginning of the movie.

May 16 2006 at 1:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I believe that some of the documentary footage will be posted on the NBC site.

Reairing the pilot just prior to the series finale will emphasize how far this once brilliant show has sunk -- and perhaps get people excited for Aaron Sorkin's return to series tv in the fall.

May 11 2006 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is disappointing that they could not come to terms on this. I am not a big fan of clip shows but with this cast I think it could have been something special. Anyway I doubt that ratings will be that good anyway with the Survivor finale going on at the same time and it being Mother's Day. NBC do you know what you are doing? 'Cause it sure don't look like it from here.

May 10 2006 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The West Wing did a lot for the actors' careers, but it was their job. I can't think of anyone I know who would work at their former job for minimum wage because they were grateful for the opportunity to work their butts off for years making that company a pile of money. But then, I'm not a fan of clip shows so their decision doesn't bother me.

May 09 2006 at 11:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Brett, check that post again:

"...some West Wing fans are speculating that the West Wing retrospective that NBC canceled in favor of the pilot ep this Sunday might make it to the last season DVD set, which will be released later this year."

Note the words "some West Wing fans are speculating." We never said that the special was even made, much less on DVD; we were reporting on the rumors that are floating around.

May 09 2006 at 7:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The last tvsquad post said the special was already in the can and might be on the DVD, but that doesn't match up with this report. Which is true?

May 09 2006 at 6:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have to say I think the same for the actors. Even if they got paid $10 to sit down and talk, it seems like it would be worth it to pay homage to the series that helped elevate their careers, making many of them household names.

May 09 2006 at 4:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Would you still do it for scale if you knew the network was going to be making a ton of money and not paying fairly for it? While the actors might just be greedy, it's also possible that they said "hey, why should we do this for peanuts when you're going to make out like bandits".

May 09 2006 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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