Saturday, April 01, 2006

Breaking News: "West Wing" and "Commander in Chief" to Merge - Vice President Mackenzie Allen?

From the TV Guide Print Edition:
" In a startling development, the producers of the two struggling White House TV dramas have decided on the unprecedented move of combining the two show's respective storylines, beginning with the end of the two show's current seasons. John Wells, the executive producer of "The West Wing", and Dee Johnson, the current producer of "Commander in Chief", announced their novel approach at a joint press conference. "We are doing this for the fans," John Wells said. He described how this decision came about after months of of confidential, behind-the-scenes negotiations. "It broke our heart to cancel "The West Wing, and at the same time, we were very saddened to see a show like "Commander", with such an interesting premise, struggle." Commander-in-Chief began its first season with phenomenal ratings - 16 million viewers tuned in to the premiere, and the audience even grew in the show's second week. But almost from the beginning "Commander" was also plagued with creative difficulties, after ABC replaced the show's creator Rod Lurie with Steven Bochco, who himself was only recently replaced with Dee Johnson. Now the show seems to be holding steady at about 10.7 million viewers.
"The West Wing", on the other hand, currently in its 7th seasons, suffered from its move to a new timeslot on Sunday evenings, although many critics have been hailing its election storyline as must-see TV. Its viewership has, however, remained constant at about 8 million viewers and it has higher ratings among more upscale viewers.
"Both of these shows have accumulated a very loyal fan base," Dee Johnson explained. "And Television thrives on the fans' need to know 'what happens next'. The fans deserve an answer to that question. So we want to give it to them."
This agreement would reverse the cancellation of "The West Wing" earlier this year. Both producers are coy about how exactly the now enlarged writing staff will handle the merge creatively, but Johnson hinted that "the vice-presidential position on 'The West Wing' has been filled," suggesting that Mackenzie Allen might become Matt Santos' new running mate. John Spencer, who played the original vice-presidential candidate Leo McGarry, died unexpectedly on December 16 of last year. John Wells added that both shows will keep their current cast, despite the fact that many "West Wing" actors have already lined up new projects, including the show's main stars, Bradley Whitford, who plays Santos campaign manager Josh Lyman. He is set to headline a new show by "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin called "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip". "We are coordinating our schedules with Aaron and 'Studio 60'," John Wells insisted. "It will be a challenge, but everyone is very excited about being a part of this endeavor."
Sam Rice, a professor of media studies at Emerson College, calls the move "bold". "It will be an interesting experiment, but only time will tell if these fans will stay loyal to hybrid versions of their favorite programs. Obviously it won't be the same, some aspects of the shows which the viewers enjoy will change, and I don't know if they will accept that," he says. Rice is skeptical about whether this solution to the two programs' woes can be a model for other shows: "'West Wing' and 'Commander' are unique in that they really have similar settings. I think it would be harder to merge say 'Law and Order' and 'C.S.I.', which each have a slightly different focus."
The time slot of the new show, tentatively titled "Commander of the West Wing", has not yet been decided, but it will be simulcast on NBC and ABC.
"This just shows how tough the pressure on the networks is from cable TV, DVDs and the Internet," Sam Rice explained. "To survive, the networks have to be innovative and they have to cooperate."

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Background Information


Anonymous said...

Bob, Nice April Fools Day joke! I wonder how many people actually stopped and thought WTF?

Lucas van Horck said...

Nice april fools day joke. ;)

Anonymous said...

april fools?

Anonymous said...

so i fell for this, but my reaction was entirely negative. i really wanted to hurt john wells until i realized what day it is.

Anonymous said...

If nothing else, the idea of simulcasting the show on NBC and ABC gives this hoax away. Ridiculous, but interesting.

Carlie said...

This was great. I got 11 people to fall for it. Thanks for making my day!