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Sorkin Exits WEST WING!!

I am – Hercules!!

Enjoy the next two episodes of “West Wing.” The ones after are going to sound a lot different.

TV supergenius Aaron Sorkin, who has personally authored or co-authored almost every episode of the NBC drama since its debut almost four years ago, announced Thursday he is leaving the show.

This should prove a crippling blow to the Emmy-winning series, which has been struggling in the ratings even with a TV supergenius at the helm.

The show will continue to be produced by John Wells, the longtime “ER” showrunner who went on to create “Third Watch” and “Presidio Med.”

Let’s hope Sorkin gets back to work soon, and turns his attention to an enterprise every bit as excellent as “West Wing” and “Sports Night.”

Speaking of: Hey, Touchstone Home Video! How about a “Sports Night” DVD without the laugh track, already!

I am – Hercules!!

Readers Talkback
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  • May 1, 2003, 9:44 p.m. CST

    what an AWFUL topic for me to be first on

    by Lelon

    this sucks. maybe the show will be just as good without sorkin. just maybe.

  • May 1, 2003, 10:01 p.m. CST

    Too bad the ratings have been suffering

    by Gheorghe Zamfir

    I've really been loving the show this season, and I'm one of those who grew very angry and frustrated with its soap box mediocrity from last season.

  • May 1, 2003, 10:14 p.m. CST

    PLEASE!!!! Sports Night on HBO!!!

    by MemBirdman

    Maybe the chance is too far gone, but what is the cast really doing right now? Peter Krause is the only one with a major gig, and you can do Sports Night opposite from Six Feet Under. C'MON!!! If the Sports Night DVD release said anything, it said that there is still an audience for it. It was the best show ever....bring it back!!!

  • May 1, 2003, 10:21 p.m. CST

    How about a SPORTS NIGHT DVD with

    by BankyFan

    a commentary, or a documentary, or something! that should not have been as bare bones as it was. Maybe Sorkin can now get to my dream project: remaking HIS GIRL FRIDAY in the Sports Night universe. Casey going after Dana, and she's ready to leave the Sports business because she's engaged to - who else? - Ted C. McGinley. Think about it.

  • May 1, 2003, 10:23 p.m. CST

    Also expected to be leaving...

    by zenda

    ...Sorkin's longtime collaborator/ fellow executive producer/ Emmy Award winning director Thomas Schlamme. I love the show, but maybe NBC should just cancel it now and save us all the misery.

  • May 1, 2003, 10:45 p.m. CST

    Well this is kinda vauge

    by Toby O Notoby

    Does anyone know *why* he's leaving? Kicked out for poor ratings? Drug problem flaring up? Will this show even be back without him? I see that Tommy Schlammae is leaving as well. Doesn't bode well for this show.

  • May 1, 2003, 10:45 p.m. CST

    Thanks Aaron! It was a great run, and I wish you well.

    by NFLRefugee

    Really, last nights episode was as good as TV drama gets. Was Sorking responsible for it all? Yes. I do think the show can go on without him. The cast has gelled very well over the years, it can go a few more seasons. I am excited about Sorkins prospects, he will create some quality television, films, theatre in the years to come. For the record, I am a recovering addict myself, so I always felt a kinship with Sorkin. He is a role model for people like myself.

  • May 2, 2003, 12:13 a.m. CST


    by The Llama

    I am very curious about the story BEHIND this...FilmBuff's link included Warner Brothers' reminder that he was under contract for another season. So for him to be "leaving" must be their decision, and not his.

  • May 2, 2003, 1:03 a.m. CST

    not that bright

    by Wolverines dad

    I'll give it a chance next year, but if it's not as good I'll just drop it. I'm already taping it because of Angel, so it won't be that tough to forget about. If they were going to do this they should have just cancelled it and let Sorkin write a fitting ending.

  • May 2, 2003, 1:04 a.m. CST

    godDAMN this friggin sucks :(

    by LargoJr

    I love West Wing... and I agree with everyone as to why.. the dialogue ROCKS.. quick, fast, clean, intelligent. I bought the DVD set for Sportsnight the second it was available, and have watched it thru several times. The show ended right at a hi point, leaving me hungry for more. You can't really ASk or hope for a better ending to a series if it has to end :( . But this will SUCK for West Wing, as anyone trying to copy Sorkin's technique will end up sounding more like Jeff Goldblum or John Cusack when they go off on one of their "listen to me babble nonsensicly in an attempt to sount like an intellectual" bullshit Tourette's/coprolalia like expositions. :(

  • May 2, 2003, 1:10 a.m. CST

    Maybe it's because...

    by BTWR

    Paramount was getting more and more pissed at Sorkin for cost overruns and turning in his scripts VERY late. Maybe this is a win-win-win situation. We get a new Sorkin Drama (I'm sure he'll 3-peat, after SN and WW), WW can work on a better schedule, with a storyline and characters that are firmly established by Mr. Sorkin, and Paramount gets a lower budget.

  • May 2, 2003, 1:26 a.m. CST

    you could see it comng

    by Ryalto 3.0

    let me guess, the new VP will be a republican and soon TWW will be spouting the Bush-approved party line instead of that dangerous liberal rhetoric. Sad to see this show in any kind of a ratings fight with awful reality television. Stupid americans triumph again.

  • May 2, 2003, 3:54 a.m. CST


    by zacdilone

    Could you write a post that makes even less sense? I doubt it.

  • May 2, 2003, 4:24 a.m. CST

    Say it ain't so

    by Heleno

    Now I'm in the UK and therefore vastly behind on my West Wing watching, but this has still gotta suck. It's a sad day for the smartest show on television.

  • May 2, 2003, 6:32 a.m. CST

    Very sad news indeed

    by newkie brown

    Whatever your politics, you have to admit that Aaron Sorkin's is a unique and challenging voice in a medium which too often revolves around banality. His show increased the quality of debate between me and my friends, and for that I will always be grateful to him. To say that his input into this show will be missed is a massive understatement. It is nothing less than a body blow. To many of us, he was the show. When Rob Lowe left The West Wing a few months ago, it felt like the dynamic that made the show work was in jeopardy, but Sorkin leaving is a torpedo through the hull.

  • May 2, 2003, 9:06 a.m. CST

    The real reason Sorkin's leaving: Lucas hired him to script EP3

    by minderbinder

    Seriously, this is a bummer. One of the best shows on TV, let's hope they can bring it to a graceful conclusion.

  • May 2, 2003, 10:51 a.m. CST

    Does Sorkin have troubles?

    by Drath

    Okay, he quit Sports Night so he could focus just on West Wing. He didn't have a writing team who could continue writing the show without him and preserve the right flavor, so the show just ended. Now the same is happening to West Wing only it's too big of a hit to stop because of him. Then you figure he had that drug problem and you start to wonder if he's got that Hemingway personality problem. I love his dialogue, his humor, his wit, and the shows he's created, but this really hurts. Even if he creates another great show, will it get a decent five to seven year run?

  • May 2, 2003, 11:15 a.m. CST


    by MustangMatt

    I find this actually quite humorous. Sorkin's obsession with force feeding America his liberal views and painting republican characters as one dimensional bigots has been the show's achilles heal. The show is WELL written and fabulously acted, don't get me wrong, but Sorkin/Schlamme's leftist views have begun to turn off America who, in turn, have begun to turn off the show. But all is not lost, folks. THE WEST WING CAN WEATHER THE STORM. There are plenty fabulous show runners and writers out there. In fact, actually using a writing staff to ... well ... WRITE will breathe fresh air into the show. We just have to hope that Martin Sheen doesn't take control or it's doomed.

  • May 2, 2003, 12:45 p.m. CST

    David E Kelly


    Why don't they just get David E Kelly to replace Sorkin, he also writes great dialogue. I'll still watch, hopefully it will remain a quality show. I wonder if getting rid of Hoynes was his way of screwing the show over before he left, I always really liked that character, I thought it would be cool to have him become president if Martin Sheen got to big for his britches.

  • May 2, 2003, 12:56 p.m. CST


    by kingredrum

    Have you actually watched The Practice the last 2-3 seasons...what a load of horseshit

  • May 2, 2003, 12:56 p.m. CST


    by kingredrum

    Have you actually watched The Practice the last 2-3 seasons...what a load of horseshit

  • May 2, 2003, 12:56 p.m. CST


    by kingredrum

    Have you actually watched The Practice the last 2-3 seasons...what a load of horseshit

  • May 2, 2003, 1:40 p.m. CST

    Maybe this could be used to their advantage...

    by Fat Chooch

    Whether you like or dislike Sorkins' views or writing, there's no denying that the ratings slide has to have been troubling to everyone. Use the change in writing to their advantage by tying the whole new "vibe" from new writers into the Hoynes scandal and upcoming kidnapping plotlines. "Nothing's the same anymore" sentiment running through the West Wing staffers. Maybe the new writing and dialogue style can help to attract new viewers who were either offended by or disagreed with Sorkins' agendizing or attract viewers who have trouble keeping up with Sorkins' patented Evelyn Wood Speed Talking style of dialogue - witty and well written as it may be. Yes, it's quite likely that the departure of Sorkin and Schlamme will impact the show greatly. But I think it needs to be looked at as an opportunity to broaden the appeal of the show and capture new viewers (and maybe even re-capture disenchanted viewers). I'm not giving up on the show yet.

  • May 2, 2003, 2:02 p.m. CST


    by UncleSam

    Sorkin destroyed his own show because he was full of it. The show was filled with blatant contradictions of his view of world events. What made me stop watching was the story line with C.J. crying about a Middle East country and how it treated its women. Then a few episodes later, Sorkin uses his show to praise India, a country that burns its women alive. What a hypocrite!

  • May 2, 2003, 2:38 p.m. CST

    I would just like to point out...

    by Homer Fong

    That I mentioned this on a talkback months ago...I'm not saying anything about AICN, just that I rule and know all and will be eating out all of your girlfriends after you puke on your balls.

  • May 2, 2003, 2:44 p.m. CST

    Well, AOL Time Warner and NBC got their control

    by MGTHEDJ

    This is not good. Sorkin is the heart and soul of this show, politics aside. Some of the actors joined the cast just to work with him. My predictions for next season: most of the cast will be "phoning-it-in", expect Mary-Louise Parker and Lily Thomlin to be gone by Feb. Sweeps, and the show wil be cancelled next May. Why cancelled? The change in writing style will alienate existing viewers yet will not be enough to attract new viewers, leading to a massive ratings plunge. -----later-----m

  • May 2, 2003, 3:16 p.m. CST

    good. more crappy flag-waving propaganda off the air.

    by Tall_Boy

    this show only has a market in the US and is sticking up the airwaves in North America and across the globe. Fuck the West Wing. Fuck it up its stupid, who gives a flying fuck about a fictional president anyway ass.

  • May 2, 2003, 4:41 p.m. CST

    Contract clause...

    by Banky the Hack

    I bet they could get him back if they'd add some perks to his contract...and by perks I mean hallucinogenic mushrooms.

  • May 2, 2003, 4:42 p.m. CST

    Don't Hit the Door on Your Way Out

    by MarkWhittington

    I guess Sorkin finally figured out what the rest of us knew all along. The Left Wing is a Clintonista wank fantasy that's spent the last season in a death spiral of self parody.

  • May 2, 2003, 6:25 p.m. CST


    by Banky the Hack

    100% agreement.

  • NBC should really cancel it, but of course they won't. I won't be surprised, though, if a lot of the cast walks out. It just won't be the same without Sorkin. Won't be much of anything without him.

  • May 2, 2003, 11:57 p.m. CST

    WW will flunk the biggest test

    by Darth Brooks

    That of time. It's written by skimming news stories and turning them into 1-hour plots, but that's one of the biggest flaws of its future re-watchabitility. Ever notice how dated watching "Miami Vice" or "L.A. Law" is nowadays? This show might be the bee's knees right now, but it's going to look more dated than an episode of "Charlie's Angels" in a few (and I mean VERY few) years.

  • May 3, 2003, 12:59 p.m. CST

    It hasnt been Cancelled yet?

    by AlwaysThere

    Get a move on, NBC. And put the show out of its misery.

  • May 3, 2003, 8:39 p.m. CST

    I'm intrigued by the prospect of WEST WING without Sorkin

    by CountryBoy

    He's obviously freakishly talented, but there was always a huge flaw in his writing: everyone talked exactly the same way. I discovered this the first time they introduced Oliver Platt on the show: I tuned in late, and seeing O.P. talking to a bunch of characters I didn't recognize (his law-office staff it turned out) I thought "Oh! WEST WING isn't on tonight. This must be DEADLINE [this was before its cancellation]." But as the characters spoke, I was like "No, it HAS to be WW. They're all talking in that artificial loopy ornate way..." And it was. I am eager to see what a non-Sorkin-scripted WEST WING sounds like. There are other talented writers out there, e.g. the GILMORE GIRLS girl (I don't know her name) who could ably fill Sorkin's shoes. (Not that she WOULD; I just mean there are other fish in the sea.)

  • May 5, 2003, 9 p.m. CST

    Drug problems

    by raffish

    silveragent writes, "drug problems. He has em; got arrested for having magic mushrooms at Burbank Airport, this is likely part of why his scripts are always late." You're jumping to some questionable conclusions here. Most people would equate "drug problems" with "drug addictions," and psilocybin simply isn't addictive in that sense. Also, while I don't believe this to be true for everyone, artists of many stripes continue to insist that the occasional use of psychedelics enhances their creativity -- including their appreciation of language, which I think most of us can agree that Sorkin possesses in spades. I'd be a bit more worried if Sorkin were still doing coke, which he certainly has done in the past. I'd be even more worried if he were an alcoholic. Relative to those possibilities, a bag of shrooms doesn't prove (or even strongly imply) a thing. IMHO, of course...

  • May 5, 2003, 11:46 p.m. CST

    Cost overruns and falling rating did sorkin in...

    by 20th Century Fox

    I'm not a fan of WW or sorkin...However he was digging his own grave with his cost overuns and production delays. As some have said before these problems were always there with WW. However it was ocvered caise of sky high ratings and the AD Bubble of late 90's. However the falling ratings which continue to fall (very steeply I may add..). Today the ratings are down and the TV AD market still sucks. Not good if you are consistantly going over budget and not hitting your ratings target. You listen to some fans (many ore big time Dems)complaints about the show and it means sorkin began to irk his base. Not good. So can WW be saved with other wirters...Yeah...But the question goes beoynd that. Will the cast want to sitck around on a sinking (ratings wise) show. As the ratings drop salary demands are most likely not to be met and thus will cause the cast to leave...The WW was the untimate 90's show....and yes kids the 90's are over...