Revivals of beloved TV shows are all the rage right now. Will and Grace is back; Gilmore Girls has all-new episodes; The X-Files is about to begin a second revival season; Roseanne is currently in production. Everything old is new again, and it’s led many to wonder which shows definitely won’t be returning. The cable offerings that ushered in the Second Golden Age are likely too recent and too final to return, but network favorites very much seem up for grabs. The West Wing, which still stands as one of the best shows in TV history, is one of them, and while you might think Aaron Sorkin is too busy to bother with reviving the TV series that put him on the map in a major way, you’d be wrong.
We’ve already known that NBC has a standing offer for Sorkin to craft a West Wing reboot, but what we didn’t know is Sorkin has entertained the idea. The show—which holds the tied Emmy record for consecutive Best Drama Series wins with Mad Men—famously went through something of an upheaval after its fourth season, at which point Sorkin and executive producer/director Thomas Schlamme exited the series over exhaustion and new mandates from NBC for Season 5 (the network wanted a lower budget and scripts coming in much sooner than Sorkin was churning them out). John Wells took over, and while The West Wing recovered some of its quality in Season 6, it was never the same show.
Sorkin’s preferred scenario, he tells me, would involve “Sterling K. Brown as the president, and there’s some kind of jam, an emergency, a very delicate situation involving the threat of war or something, and [President] Bartlet [played by Martin Sheen], long since retired, is consulted in the way that Bill Clinton used to consult with Nixon.”
The issue, Sorkin says, is he can’t figure out how to organically rope in Allison Janney’s C.J. Cregg or Bradley Whitford’s Josh Lyman or other West Wing staples that would make the revival worth revisiting, so for now the idea is simply that—an idea. But if Sorkin somehow came up with some 8-episode arc that could weave these characters in, I’d be there in a heartbeat.
For now, Sorkin is launching Molly’s Game to positive reviews and Oscar buzz, but he also reveals that his live NBC production of his play/film A Few Good Men may be pushed back from Spring 2018 to Spring 2019 as he’s still working on figuring that one out too.
Next up for Sorkin, while he oversees table reads and rehearsals for his Broadway revival of To Kill a Mockingbird, is a feature film based on Lucy and Desi Arnez. Cate Blanchett is set to play Lucille Ball and Amazon Studios is producing the film, which Sorkin says will be set against the backdrop of a single production week at I Love Lucy. Beyond that he doesn’t have it figured out yet and will soon start writing the script, but that’s kind of how all Sorkin projects work. When he signed on to write The Social Network he had no idea what kind of story he was telling, but he ended up scripting an Oscar-winning masterpiece.
So yeah, whatever Sorkin does, I’m there. Especially if it’s a West Wing reunion.