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Original Airdate 05-14-03 Rerun 09-17-03

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As the series' fourth-season finale begins, Zoey has just been abducted from the nightclub in Georgetown where she and Jean-Paul had been celebrating her graduation. Of course, the White House goes into crisis mode, fearing that the kidnapping is the work of terrorists. "Certainly it's easy to imagine how this escalates to a military situation," is the way one TV commentator puts it. And the Father-in-Chief fears he might do something impulsive. In other parental news, Andy (Kathleen York) has given birth to a boy and a girl. Typically, Toby's morose. The kidnapping compounds it, but, primarily, he's afraid he won't love his children "as much as other fathers love theirs."
From NBC:
In the season finale, a national crisis is thrust on the President (Martin Sheen) on the night of his daughter Zoey's graduation, forcing him to shut down Washington, D.C. as he orders the Fifth Fleet to the Persian Gulf -- all of which prompts Bartlet to consider executive action that would have been unthinkable just hours earlier. In the midst of the administration's greatest challenge, a conflicted Toby (Richard Schiff) still finds time to savor a personal milestone on the best day of his life.
From Warner Bros.:
In the season finale, Bartlet confronts a national crisis on the night of his daughter Zoey's (Elisabeth Moss) graduation from Georgetown University, forcing him to shut down Washington, D.C., and order a fleet to the Persian Gulf. Bartlet also considers executive action that would have been unthinkable just hours earlier. In the midst of the administration's greatest challenge, a conflicted Toby still finds time to savor a personal milestone.


Stockard Channing as Abbey (Abigail Ann) Bartlet M.D. First Lady
Dulé Hill as Charlie (Charles) Young Personal Aide to the President
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Press Secretary
Joshua Malina as Will (William) Bailey Deputy Communications Director
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff
Richard Schiff as Toby (Tobias Zachary) Ziegler Communications Director
John Spencer as Leo Thomas McGarry Chief of Staff
Bradley Whitford as Josh (Joshua) Lyman Deputy Chief of Staff
Martin Sheen as
Jed (Josiah Edward) Bartlet President of the United States
Special Guest Star
Mary-Louise Parker as
Amy (Amelia) Gardner FLOTUS' Chief of Staff
John Amos as
Admiral Percy "Fitz" Fitzwallace Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
Taye Diggs as
Wesley "Wes" Davis Head of Zoey's Secret Service detail
Guest Starring    
Michael O'Neill as Ron Butterfield Head of POTUS' Secret Service detail
Anna Deavere Smith as Dr. Nancy McNally National Security Advisor
Clark Gregg as Special Agent Michael Casper "Mike" / FBI
Harry Groener as Roger Tribby Secretary of Agriculture
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Trent Ford as Jean Paul FULL NAME Zoey's Boyfriend
Alan Dale as Mitch Bryce Secretary of Commerce
Vernee Watson-Johnson as Nurse  
J. Patrick McCormack as General Jimmy Wendall  
John Goodman (uncredited) as Glenallen "Glen" Walken Speaker of the House
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Kim Webster as Ginger Assistant to Communications' Director
Devika Parikh as Bonnie Communications' Aide
Laura Gardner as Gwen Parent
Kris Murphy as Katie Witt (last name) / Reporter
Timothy Davis-Reed as Mark O'Donnell (last name) / Reporter
Charles Noland as Steve Reporter
Randolph Brooks as Lyle Arthur Leeds / Reporter
Susanne Filkins as Geri Reporter
Sha' Bennett as Peggy Parent
Lucy Butler as Jill Parent
Lance E. Nichols as Jay Parent
Milt Tarver as Jerry Parent
Jon Van Ness as Andrew Parent
Dan Manning as Banks Agent
John Antonini as Jamie Reed (last name)
Shannon Marshall as Randy Weathers (last name)
Gary Telles as FBI Agent #1  
Kathryn Klavana as FBI Agent #2  
Weston Blakesley as Dr. Wellman George (first name from script)
Brady Rubin as Judge Madam Justice Sharon Day
Haskell Vaughn Anderson III as Interior Secretary  
Estuardo Rodriguez Minano as Paramedic  
Ivan Allen as TV 3 & 4 Roger Salier
Keely Jones as Reporter  
Diane Badger as Cabinet Member  
Jim Gabriel as Cabinet Member  

Information Links



Emmy Awards

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Win for
Christopher Misiano
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Series Nomination for
Janet Ashikaga A.C.E.
Submitted for consideration after Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Nomination by
Martin Sheen
Submitted for consideration after Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Nomination by
John Spencer
Submitted for consideration after Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Nomination by
Stockard Channing
Submitted for consideration for Outstanding Drama Series Win
Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing for a Series Nomination for
Gary D. Rogers
Dan Hiland
Patrick Hanson, C.A.S.
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nomination for
Aaron Sorkin

DGA Awards

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series Night Win for
Christopher Misiano

Eddie Awards

Best Edited One-Hour Series for Television Nomination for
Janet Ashikaga A.C.E.

Media Quotes

The Washington, D.C. crew of "The West Wing" has been filming on location since last Friday. The crew filmed in Alexandria, on the Georgetown University campus, K Street and will conclude the filming on 17th street near the American Revolution building. The unit is filming for the May 7 broadcast as well as the May 14 season finale.

Although the plot is kept secret until the show is aired, Wells did release that the show, aside from Commencement at Georgetown University, will show what happens when the government has to shift into a different gear because someone very close to the president has been taken away.

"'West Wing' Graduates at Georgetown"
by Justin Dickerson
April 29, 2003

[John] Wells: ... We have had ups and downs on the show in the past and we've always tried to encourage Aaron to stay, and because he writes so many of them, he has always expressed the sense that he was starting to run out of steam. I don't think you'll feel he ran out of any steam when you watch the end of this season. But I certainly have some sympathy for him. He's now written 88 episodes. I mean, I've written a lot of ERs, but over nine years, I've written 30. (Laughing) I don't have the ability to attempt what he has done over the last few years.

"West Wing Creator Quits! What Now?"
by Michael Ausiello
May 2, 2003
TV Guide Online

The Bartlet administration is getting a shake-up and we're not talking about the departure of "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin. "Roseanne"'s John Goodman joins the cast of the NBC drama May 14 as a Republican speaker of the House. Now that VP John Hoynes (Tim Matheson) has resigned, will Goodman become Bartlet's wing man? Allison Janney hints that the situation is "pretty monumental" - something that could "happen in our government but has never happened. It's going to have amazing repercussions for next season." Adds costar John Spencer, "He's going to become quite involved in the Bartlet administration."

"On the Air"
by William Keck and Lynette Rice
May 16, 2003
Entertainment Weekly

He [Timothy Lenz, associate professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University] adds, however, that West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin wrote a perfect scenario for the amendment on his show's season finale.

"That's an ideal example of the kind of circumstances this amendment was intended to address, where a president acknowledges his incapacity rather than having someone else make that acknowledgment," Lenz says.

"The 25th Amendment on TV"
by Kevin D. Thompson
May 20, 2003
Palm Beach Post

"If your business is intrigue, the 25th Amendment is great," said Gene Sperling, a writer for "The West Wing" and a former aide to President Bill Clinton.


Some experts in constitutional law agreed that rarely has the portrayal of a political issue been so accurate and educational.

Section 3 of the amendment allows a president to temporarily transfer power by simply sending letters to the Speaker and the Senate's president pro tempore. That's what Bartlet of "The West Wing" did.


But at least one expert, Yale Law School's Akhil Amar, who consulted with "The West Wing's" writers, said the 25th Amendment's biggest logical inconsistency is its reliance on a vice president.

"The vice president is the indispensable man," he said. "It's a major point of vulnerability within the system."

Without a vice president, the Speaker is next in line but must resign the Speaker's position because the Constitution forbids a legislator from holding multiple offices.

But once the Speaker resigns, he or she "destroys [his or her] status as an 'officer' eligible to 'act as president.' And so on this logic, the Speaker is ineligible to act as president whether or not he resigns as Speaker," Amar said.


"The intrigue of the amendment comes from Sections 3 and 4," said David Gerkin [Gerken], a writer on "The West Wing." "We used the third. It would have looked a little cartoonish to use the fourth. We decided it would be Bartlet's decision."

"Television's newest star: the 25th Amendment"
by Jonathan E. Kaplan
May 28, 2003
The Hill

Creator Aaron Sorkin, who is leaving the show, wrote the season finale in which Bartlet invoked the 25th Amendment and temporarily gave presidential power to the Speaker of the House (guest star John Goodman). Sorkin consulted NBC executives on the plot twist before it was shot, [Jeff] Zucker says.

"Despite their finales, shows will go on"
by John Kiesewetter
May 28, 2003
Cincinnati Enquirer

"The only part of it that's not believable to me is that he would willingly, voluntarily give up the presidency to the other party even for a little while," says [Daniel] Ponder. [an associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado]

The alternative? Select a new vice president, which entails congressional approval. "If they did it under emergency provisions, they could do it within a few days," Ponder says.

"'West Wing,' '24' provide civics lesson"
by Robin A. Rothman
May 30, 2003
Knight Ridder

For Aaron Sorkin, the end was fittingly presidential.

His coworkers were gathered on the Oval Office set, preparing to shoot the most dramatic moment in The West Wing's four-year run - the swearing in of a new president - when word came down to stop what they were doing and adjourn to the Roosevelt Room.

Sorkin, their Emmy-winning commander in chief and the man who had single-handedly written 87 of the show's 88 episodes [not true, Enemies, Swiss Diplomacy and The Long Goodbye], walked in minutes later and delivered a bombshell: He was leaving the show. Right now.

"There was a stunned silence," recalls actor Joshua Malina. Martin Sheen finally spoke: "Oh, my God." Then came the sobbing. "It was an emotional holocaust," says Bradley Whitford. "It was agony for all of us."

Asked what he would do next, Sorkin said, "I honestly have no idea."

"Broken Wing"
by Mary Murphy and Mark Schwed
May 31, 2003
TV Guide (American edition)

" ... I don't know what the network is doing. They brought in this whole other plot thing, with John Goodman, because I am sure they were getting nervous about the (show's) politics." - Lily Tomlin

by R.D. Heldenfels
July 12, 2003
Akron Beacon Journal

... At the end of last season, an exhausted Sorkin bowed out from the program.

"He couldn't share it," she says, explaining why Sorkin chose to make a clean break from the series. "The way I finally figured it out is that if someone came to me and said, 'Listen, someone else is going to play C.J. for 10 episodes, you don't mind do you?', I'd be like, 'Are you crazy?'"

"Allison Janney is the softer side of C.J. Cregg"
by Jay Boyar
July 29, 2003
Orlando Sentinel

And as far as awards go, [Patrick] Hanson has already won a Cinema Audio Society Award, the most prestigious award for sound producers, this year for his work on the "West Wing." Regarding the possibility of winning an Emmy, he can't even describe his elation.

"Beyond words," said Hanson. "It's very, very exciting."

"Crivitz native nominated for Emmy for 'West Wing' work"
by Eric LaRose
August 23, 2003
Eagle Herald

"We were in the middle of shooting and [Aaron and Tommy] sat us down and Aaron said, "Tommy and I just want to tell you this, because you'll hear it on Access Hollywood tonight. We're leaving," recalls Joshua Malina (Will Bailey). "There was just this stunned silence. As much as I was aware that his going over budget was an issue, I didn't think it would lead to Aaron's leaving. I didn't think that Warner Bros. and NBC would risk losing him. Aaron was one of a kind, and no committee of 20 people can replace him."

Actually, it's only one guy: Executive producer John Wells is now in charge. "My preference was always that Aaron stay," says Wells, who helped develop the series. "As the ratings came down, there was more pressure on making the budget because clearly we weren't going to get as much money for the show. I think the pressure of that got to be a bit much for Aaron."

"The West Wing"
by Allison Hope Weiner
September 12, 2003
Entertainment Weekly

They showed the opening of the pilot from SN, the end of the finale of SN, the start of the WW pilot (Leo walking in, etc.), the Two Cathedrals speech, and the John Goodman scene from last season's finale (last thing Aaron had anything to do with, he told us).

Posted at
by AJ
September 12, 2003
Message 31492
Notes from "A Conversation with Aaron Sorkin" at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills

[Stockard] Channing says she's not worried about the departure of series creator Aaron Sorkin. "We miss Aaron. He actually is a genius, but I think he's exhausted. He wrote the equivalent of 44 feature films, and they were about language, not car chases. With other (writing) voices, the show will be slightly different."

"Channing a classic late bloomer 'West Wing' role and Woody Allen movie give career a boost"
by Nancy Mills
September 14, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle

During "a self-pitying moment" this summer, Wells and his wife rewatched the season finale, which included President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) stepping down from office. "When it finished, I turned to her and said, 'How am I supposed to get out of that?' But doing it was actually a terrific head start. Aaron's instinct was right."

"'8 Simple Rules' will add Ritter's death to storyline"
by Gail Pennington
September 23, 2003
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Martin Sheen has a really hard time remembering people's names -- a trait for which he is well known.

"He tries, but he just can't. I was there one day when his son, Emilio Estevez, was playing a younger version of the President (Sheen's character). Everyone in the cast was teasing Martin because he remembered Estevez's name all day."

"L.A. makeup artist remembers her roots"
by Betsy Hansen
January 8, 2004
Fremont Tribune

"Part of the notion between the vice president resigning and the president's daughter being kidnapped," [John] Wells said, "was to find some way to strike at the core of the national sense of security in some way that would mirror what happened in the real world, yet not be in any way demeaning to the real events that are happening."

John Spencer, who plays Leo McGarry, said it was pointed out to him that even the exits of Sorkin, co-executive producer Thomas Schlamme, a genius director, and actor Rob Lowe, reflects reality. "I had a member of the real West Wing say to me, 'In the real West Wing, we lose people every four or five months.' It kind of put things into perspective for me."

"West Wingers still proud of what they do"
by Tom Jicha
January 28, 2004
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The person in front of me asked the question that I think a lot of people wanted to ask but didn't and that is "Will you ever come back and write for TWW, either permanently or as a one time deal?" Sorkin again talked about how much he liked and admired the people who worked on the show and that he and Tommy Schlamme ... still talk about whether they were crazy for leaving but at this point there are no plans for him to write any more episodes for the show.

Posted at Forum
by mjforty
January 29, 2004
Notes from a second L.A. book signing with Aaron Sorkin

I had a quick moment to ask Aaron Sorkin when I had him autographing my copy of the WW Scriptbook, if it was Emilio Estevez playing the younger Jed Bartlet in the "home movies" that were shown during the hospital scene with Toby. Aaron confirmed that it was, in fact, Emilio.

Emailed to the website
by Linda Mayberry
February 1, 2004
Information from a second L.A. book signing with Aaron Sorkin

And time is running out on that kind of romantic honeymoon," Schiff says, "in the fictional White House in very much the same way that the real White House runs out on their honeymoon, usually a whole lot sooner. And Aaron presented on a silver platter, I think, for the next generation of writers and for us as characters, the shattering of that romanticism."

It shattered at the end of last season, when the president's daughter was kidnapped, Schiff says. "The reality of the White House as fictionally we know it was in a hundred million little pieces," he says. "And you have to move on from there and evolve from there."

"'West Wing' Remains Stellar"
by Roger Catlin
February 4, 2004
Hartford Courant

And now I'm thinking that the "new" Leo makes a lot more sense than the old one, who'd had his edges softened over the years in ways that sometimes strained credulity.

"You're not the only person who's said this," Spencer said recently when I asked about the pricklier Leo during a "West Wing" press session in Hollywood. A visitor to the set had told Spencer, " 'Leo's gotten so mean,' " he said.

"And you know, mean and nice and all of that is in the eye of the beholder. But I think you have to look to Qumar" and the plot line last season in which Leo helped talk President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) into assassinating a leader of that fictional Middle Eastern country.

"Things were not easy in the White House at the beginning of this season. I mean, fictionally," he said. "And a lot of it fell on Leo's head, an unhappy staff, a president that was miserable and had lost his daughter, and a first lady who could no longer communicate with me and said that she didn't want me in the house any longer. So Leo's been going through a lot of stuff."

"It's good to have irascible Leo back"
by Ellen Gray
February 11, 2004
Philadelphia Daily News

When he quit The West Wing in 2003, much was made of his increasing unreliability. His scripts were being delivered later and later and he accepts that, at times, shooting would have to begin with the script only half-written, which would add to the cost of the production.

'But that's a red herring. Everyone continued to make money and the show burnished reputations and won awards.' Sorkin picked up a brace of Emmys. So why did he quit? A number of reasons, he says, the most concrete of which was a change in the contract with NBC, which did away with the link between the show's success in terms of viewing figures and ad revenue and the producers' earnings. Instead, they went on to a flat rate.

'There was no longer a strong incentive to make it good, just efficiently, and I'm not the guy for that.'

"Wing and a prayer"
by Jay Rayner
July 10, 2005

The show's creator, Aaron Sokin, left after Season 4. Was that difficult for the cast?

It was a very emotional time as we had fought a great battle together. I felt that Aaron used Toby to explore some of the darker issues in his own life. I felt a real affinity with him. - Richard Schiff

"Shooting the breeze with The West Wing's Toby"
by James Dyer
October 2005

Channing is also coping with the constant rewriting that is common to sitcoms.

It's a different experience than she had on "The West Wing," especially during the tenure of creator Aaron Sorkin. He may not always have delivered script pages quickly, but Channing says, "Whatever was written by Aaron was etched in stone. By the time it got to the person who was to say those words, you couldn't change a preposition.

"So, this sort of give and take, for better or worse, is very different from 'The West Wing' experience."

"Channing Returns for More 'Practice'"
by Kate O'Hare
March 22, 2006

Larry David, who left "Seinfeld" before the end of its run, gave me a piece of advice. He said, "Don't watch the show ever again. Either it'll be great and you'll be miserable, or it won't be great and you'll be miserable."

While I've stayed in close touch with all my friends from the show, I haven't seen it since I left at the end of the fourth season. - Aaron Sorkin

"No Looking Back for Sorkin"
by William LaRue
May 11, 2006

For more information about this episode:
Continuity Guide to "The West Wing"
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