Wednesday, May 10, 2006

NBC Leads In Final "West Wing" Episode With a Rebroadcast of the "West Wing" Pilot, No Retrospective!

Dianora posted at Television Without Pity:
"A friend of mine called NBC and got through to the Publicity Director and was told "We felt creatively, it was the way to go." Boy, are they wrong. I'm off to send a polite but angry e-mail.

The guy he spoke to was Joe Libonati, Publicity Director. His phone number/contact info is on the NBCUMV website."
This editor found the following contact info here:
Contact: Joe Libonati
Organization: NBC Entertainment Publicity
Phone: 818-840-3050
From the New York Post:
"NBC has yanked a "West Wing" retrospective that was supposed to air right before Sunday's series finale.

Instead, viewers will see the series' pilot episode, which originally aired in 1999, and has been repeated many times over the years - including on NBC's sister cable network, Bravo (which airs "West Wing" repeats).

The pilot is also on the show's first-season DVD.

Scrapping the retrospective was a "creative" decision, an NBC spokesman said yesterday.

"We decided to go with airing the pilot," he offered by way of explanation.

But insiders say NBC didn't want to air the retrospective because it would have to pay the "West Wing" actors for their additional work - and it just wasn't worth it in this era of network cost-cutting, especially for a show that's lost much of its audience.

NBC announced plans for the one-hour retrospective last January. The sudden decision to scrap it left many "West Wing" fans feeling cranky - and sounding off on the show message board."

From the Washington Post:
"As recently as last week, NBC promised that for one hour this Sunday, we could watch as "the cast of the Emmy Award-winning 'West Wing' pauses to reflect on the evocative drama's seven years on NBC with a retrospective of many emotional and touching scenes that made the [Bartlet] administration come alive to millions of Americans."

But, as NBC learned the hard way, some cast members of "The West Wing" don't cough up an hour of "emotional" and "touching" for nothing. Not even for cheap.

Turns out, playing themselves reminiscing about their years on the show as role models for millions around the world is not included in their contracts. Those appearances have to be negotiated separately.

Shrewdly recognizing that this could be their last opportunity to hold out for more cash -- various "West Wingers" having entertained us over the years with their sick-outs and other pay-hike ploys -- some cast members let it be known that an hour's worth of emotional and touching pausing and reflecting was going to cost NBC and Warner Bros. TV. Too much, it appears, for a retrospective on a now low-rated show, especially when the clip job was going to air on a Sunday in May at 7 p.m. -- when the HUT (homes using television) level is low.

And so, my fellow Americans, NBC decided it will not broadcast, as it had promised, a "West Wing" retrospective leading into the critically heralded show's very last episode.

Instead, at 7 this Sunday night, NBC will rebroadcast the show's very first episode, in which the band of thespian mercenaries is introduced to an unsuspecting public, and the president of the United States falls off his bicycle -- oh yeah, like that's gonna happen.

When NBC originally aired the pilot episode, in the fall of 1999, it clocked an average of 17 million viewers.

When NBC last reran it in February 2001, according to the network, it averaged about 9 million viewers.

And -- what with "West Wing" originals averaging about 8 million viewers these days -- if the pilot repeat comes anywhere near its previous performance, you can expect to see a lot fewer retrospectives leading into the final episode of a long-running series and a lot more first-episode/final-episode packages.

And Allison Janney no longer will be remembered as having been a role model for millions of women around the world; instead, the "West Wing" gang will be remembered as having been role models for dozens of actors holding out for more cash in order to sit in high chairs and reminisce about their brilliant career on fill-in-the-blank-series."

From Broadcasting & Cable:
"NBC will still devote two hours to the final night of The West Wing on Sunday, but a clip show that was to air in the first hour will be replaced by a re-airing of the show’s original pilot.

Sources close to the show say the retrospective was scrapped over monetary demands of cast members.

So, NBC will air the pilot at 7 pm on Sunday, followed by the series finale at 8.

Despite the creative being reinvigorated with the election between Jimmy Smits’ Matthew Santos and Alan Alda’s Arnold Vinick, the seven-year-old Beltway drama struggled to draw an audience this season after NBC moved it to Sunday nights.

The move was not well received by West Wing insiders. "The network made it clear when it moved us to Sunday night that the show was not going to be a priority," West Wing star Bradley Whitford told B&C recently.

And NBC does seem ready to let the show’s term expire. Immediately following the penultimate episode last Sunday, NBC ran a generic "stay tuned for scenes from the next all-new West Wing" promo before the final commercial break, as opposed to producing a bumper spot asking viewers to stay tuned for scenes from the series finale, which followed the break."

From Variety:
"Plans for a retrospective special saluting "The West Wing" have been scrapped after some of the actors on the show decided there wasn't enough money in it for them.

When NBC announced the skein's swan song back in January, Peacock chief Kevin Reilly also said the net would air a one-hour clip show featuring interviews with the cast. Special was set to air 7-8 p.m. Sunday, right before the show's final episode.

But even though Warner Bros. TV and John Wells Prods. had hired a production company to handle the special, it had to be scrubbed. Turns out some of the actors on the show weren't happy with the coincoin they were being offered to appear on-camera, according to people familiar with the decision to ax the special.

It's unclear just how much WBTV and Wells were willing to pay the actors, but some of the thesps on the show make in the $200,000-per-hour neighborhood. Shelling out anywhere near that much would have caused the budget for the special to soar -- not a financially wise move given the relatively paltry ratings "West Wing" is averaging in its final season.

Nobody at WBTV or NBC seems concerned about the special's demise, likely because expectations are modest for how "West Wing" will perform when it signs off.

It's a big contrast to recent send-offs for shows such as "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Friends," when pre-finale clip shows drew huge audiences as fans made an entire night of it.

Peacock is still planning a clipfest for "Will & Grace," while Fox is airing a roughly 90-minute salute to departing laffer "That '70s Show" this Thursday in conjunction with a seven-minute trailer for "X-Men: The Last Stand."

And "The West Wing" will still have a two-hour goodbye: NBC has struck a deal with WBTV to air the show's pilot episode in place of the special."

From Aaron Barnhart's TV Barn column:
"I was really looking forward to the hour-long "The West Wing" retrospective that NBC has been promising since they announced the cancellation of the show at TCA Winter Press Tour," writes Sandy Snyder. Now NBC has issued a press release saying that the pilot of "The West Wing" will air during the time slot that the retrospective was slated. This is supremely disappointing, to say the least! The pilot is terrific to be sure, but what fan hasn't already seen it a half dozen times (and probably owns it on DVD)? I would much rather watch a retrospective celebrating this great show with interviews from the cast and crew. Can you find out what's going on? Why would they do this after months of promising the retrospective? Would the actors not cooperate? Or is this one final slap in the face by NBC to fans?"

Well, Sandy, I have not heard back from NBC yet. But I think it is safe to say that, yes, this is one final slap in the face to people who helped make "The West Wing" a huge hit. That, by the way, would includ millions of onetime "West Wing" fans who might have been lured back to the tube for one last two-hour finale. That's something NBC did many times in the past (albeit for programs that were still going strong at the end, like "Seinfeld" and "Friends"). The fact that NBC's not doing it now, I think, reflects the overall conservatism and loss of nerve at TV's number four network."

From the San Jose Mercury News:
"There are some very devoted fans of "The West Wing'' out there and a number emailed Monday to ask why NBC had apparently pulled a planned retrospective (ie: clip show) tribute scheduled to air prior to Sunday's series finale. (It was abruptly replaced late last week by a repeat of the show's original pilot.)

Well, there were a flurry of rumors about the sudden schedule change but, as is often the case in the world of TV, it all came down to money. According to published reports in Variety and elsewhere, it turns out that some key members of the cast decided they should be paid serious change to get all warm and fuzzy about the end of the series. Their feeling: Heck, it's another episode -- so show us the money.

That made the retrospective too expensive for Warner Bros., the studio that produces the show, and NBC -- especially since the tribute was scheduled to air at 7 p.m. in much of the country when television usage is rather low even on a Sunday night.

As a result, viewers will have to settle for the first hour of "The West Wing.'' That isn't necessarily horrible but the White House drama definitely deserves better."

From TV Gal of the Seattle Post Intelligencer:
"Man, you go away for a few days, and everything goes to hell.
OK ... that's a bit of an exaggeration, but still -- as of Thursday evening, there was still going to be an hour of "West Wing" appreciation going on Sunday. Come today, we find out that has been replaced by a rerun of the pilot.

According to Variety, a few of the actors decided that they wanted a bit more cash to wring up some emotion and reminisce in between clips of the series' greatest moments. So instead of just rerunning those clips without the actors, NBC decided to re-air an episode that the "West Wing" faithful either has on DVD or has seen on NBC or Bravo a number of times.

For viewers who have stuck with the series this far, this must feel like another slap in the face. (On top of your show getting cancelled, it goes out like this?) On the other hand, the special was supposed to air at 7 p.m. Sunday, when most people aren't watching TV anyway, so ...

Well, at least it's getting a series finale send-off. Be happy for that. Other fine television shows probably won't get that courtesy -- just a cup of bad news served cold, and early in the morning, next week."

From Alan Sepinwall at the New Jersey Star Ledger:
"When in doubt, assume it's about the money -- as this situation is. When NBC announced plans in January to run a retrospective special before Sunday's series finale, no one had bothered to check with the "West Wing" actors, who have had a salary dispute or 12 with NBC and Warner Bros. over the show's run. When the two sides couldn't come to an agreement on how much the cast should be paid, NBC pulled the plug and substituted the "West Wing" pilot instead.

As you guessed, some work was already done on the special, so if the actors and Warner Bros. ever reach an accord, maybe it can be completed and put on the final season DVD set."

NBC has revised its Sunday schedule adding a broadcast of the "West Wing" pilot, first broadcast in September 1999, at 7PM ET. So far the show schedule still lists the series finale as being at 8PM. At this time it is not clear when NBC will broadcast the retrospective.
On MSNBC video, you can watch a clip from the "West Wing" retrospective. This will probably require Internet Explorer and may require a special media player. You can watch the clip in Windows Media Player here.

The photos from the season finale are now available enlarged and more photos have been added. There are photos of Matt and Helen Santos; Josh, Donna and Sam; C.J.; President Bartlet and Charlie; Ronna and Debbie. The Scripps Howard News service has posted very large version of one of the promotional phtoos.


From NBC:

THE WEST WING (8-9 p.m.)
"Institutional Memory"

CJ IS FORCED TO LOOK AT HER FUTURE -- As Bartlet's administration prepares to transition to the Santos administration, CJ (Allison Janney) ponders what to do with her future. Meanwhile, Will (Josh Malina) is also in a position of uncertainty about what is to come. Richard Schiff and Mary McCormack also star.


NBC SPECIALS (7-8 p.m.)
"The West Wing Retrospective" (working title)

CAST OF 'THE WEST WING' REFLECTS ON SEVEN YEARS OF EMMY-WINNING DRAMA -- The cast of the Emmy Award-winning "The West Wing" pauses to reflect on the evocative drama's seven years on NBC with a retrospective of many emotional and touching scenes that made the President Bartlet's administration come alive to millions of Americans. The critically acclaimed series also became a popular hit and earned a record-tying four Emmy Awards as Outstanding Drama Series. The series finale follows.

THE WEST WING(8-9 p.m.)
"Tomorrow - Series Finale"

SERIES FINALE OF EMMY AWARD-WINNING 'THE WEST WING'; ROB LOWE MAKES A CAMEO – After seven seasons of the Award-winning drama series, the Bartlet Administration prepares to leave the White House and The West Wing. While Santos and his winning camp are nervously gearing up for the presidential inauguration, current President Bartlet (Martin Sheen), CJ (Allison Janney) and the others fondly look back as they prepare to leave the White House forever. Guest star Rob Lowe guest-stars as Sam Seaborn. Alan Alda, Joshua Malina, Mary McCormack, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, Kristen Chenoweth, Jimmy Smits and Teri Polo also star. "



Anonymous said...

I contacted a person at NBC, who said that the retrospective is cancelled.

Le Sheppard said...

Thursday, May 11
Ellen and the cast celebrate with a special season finale send-off party! The cast shares special moments and highlights from the past nine seasons.

Felone said...

I just wanted to pass along the email I sent to NBC...

Dear Joe,

Forgive me emailing you without you knowing who I am.

I have been a loyal fan of The West Wing and think it's a shame that NBC is choosing to show the TWW pilot episode prior to the season finale instead of a retrospective. TWW is unique these days in it's loyal and rabid fan base and these fans (myself included) feel that we are being disrespected by choosing to show the pilot. A show of this quality and length deserves a retrospective, if not a whole night special, and choosing not to shoot and show a retrospective for monetary reasons is really a crime.

I just wanted to voice my opinion. Hopefully it means something to NBC.

Kind Regards,