Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


West Wing writers changed election results

I suspected as much, but now it's been confirmed. The writers for the West Wing had initially planned to make Republican Arnold Vinick the winner of the election on the show. Those plans were altered though after the death of John Spencer.

Instead, Lawrence O'Donnell, an executive producer of the show, said he and his fellow writers had declared Santos the winner only after the death, in December, of John Spencer, who played Santos' running mate, Leo McGarry. At that time, the plot for Sunday night's episode had been set: The election was to be won by Alan Alda's Arnold Vinick, a maverick Republican (modeled a bit on Sen. John McCain), whom many Democrats (including the Democrats who write the show) could learn to love.

But after Spencer died, O'Donnell said in a recent interview, he and his colleagues began to confront a creative problem: Would viewers be saddened to see Smits' character lose both his running mate and the election? The writers decided that such an outcome would prove too lopsided, in terms of taxing viewers' emotions, so a script with the new ending - including the election-night death of Spencer's character - was undertaken by John Wells, the executive producer of The West Wing and ER.


At 4/15/2006 05:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an English fan, both of the West Wing (which is hugely admired in the UK as witty, intelligent, TV drama) and of Alan Alda, a fine actor, how I regret that we are not to have the chance of seeing President Vinick in the White House. It would have been an interesting twist to see what changes a republican president would have brought to the series. My Friday nights will be empty when the seventh series ends - we're currently 13 episodes in, over here. Can't wait to get hold of the DVDs of this final series to watch it all over again. Congratulations to a great team of writers and actors.


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