The West Wing Revival Idea That Richard Schiff Recently Pitched To Aaron Sorkin

the west wing toby ziegler's speech best scene

Recent years have inspired tons of rumors about potentially huge TV revivals, and Aaron Sorkin's highly lauded political drama The West Wing has been one of the more exciting prospects. In fact, former star Richard Schiff says he was talking to Sorkin recently, and the West Wing creator listened to Schiff's pitch for where the show could go in a new season.

Aaron has said he wanted it to happen. Might go with a new administration, in which case, you know, some of us might show up as consultants; it makes no sense, maybe one or two of us to be in the White House. I've pitched it to Aaron. He loved it.

Richard Schiff's take on the potential future of The West Wing is perhaps less of a straight revival pitch and more of a same-universe reboot with new characters, but the level of excitement within the fanbase should be about the same. After all, when Aaron Sorkin loves an idea, that idea usually finds its way to becoming a reality. Especially since NBC has basically given the Molly's Game filmmaker an open-door policy for a new West Wing-related project.

That fairly limited logline seen above definitely didn't account for all the ideas that Richard Schiff has about potentially returning to the role of Toby Ziegler. Appearing on the podcast Popcorn Talk, Schiff expanded his pitch and explained why he thinks The West Wing would probably need to change locations to somewhere outside of its titular setting.

I don't think it should be in the White House. I think that's overcooked. My image of a show in the White House now is something like House of Cards, which is more apropos for the current administration --- and Veep. You know, you combine Veep and House of Cards and you got, you got this administration. It's a great idea. Where does politics really happen? And that's the question. And especially in this era where there's such an excitement in the grassroots level and on the local level, and, and it really all happens in the state level.

The West Wing, which last aired in 2006, did not give Richard Schiff's Toby Ziegler the most sensible and fan-embraced final-season storyline, setting the character up to be indicted for leaking classified information. Schiff, along with plenty of fans, had criticized The West Wing's creative team for that left-field arc in the past, so having the series come back in some form could go a long way in rectifying Toby's decision-making.

Plus, I'm fully on board with the idea of The West Wing averting its focus and centering on the ways that politics runs people's lives outside of Washington D.C.'s most famous residence. There are certainly tons of other hallways around the district where characters can engage in their Sorkin-specific walk-and-talks.

While The West Wing hasn't aired any full-length episodes in nearly 13 years, that doesn't mean all the characters have been completely absent from our lives. For instance, the always phenomenal Allison Janney reprised the role role of CJ Cregg for a White House press briefing in 2016, and then again in 2017 for Samantha Bee's Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner. And everyone knows the third-through-the-hundredth times are the charm, so let's get C.J. back on TV on a regular basis in 2019.

When rumors about a West Wing revival were first kicked around in 2017, Aaron Sorkin had his own ideas for the show's potential new direction. Looking back, his vision couldn't have sounded more different from Richard Schiff's, even if it was a pretty interesting concept in general.

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] Bartlett [played by Martin Sheen], long since retired, is consulted in the way that Bill Clinton used to consult with Nixon.

Would President Bartlett even return for Richard Schiff's revival pitch? And what about Bradley Whitford's Josh Lyman or Dulé Hill's Charlie Young? Once they start bringing a couple of West Wing characters back, they'd have to bring them all back, right? (Minus the dead folks, obviously.)

Do you guys want to see The West Wing return to audiences in 2019 or 2020? Let us know in the comments, and head to our midseason premiere schedule to see all the other great new and returning shows that are hitting primetime soon.

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.