‘The West Wing’: Aaron Sorkin’s 385 Page ‘The American President’ Script Was Pieced Into a Pilot

by Jeremy Spirogis
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No matter what Aaron Sorkin does from right here on out, he’ll largely be remembered as The West Wing creatorDespite a number of different excessive profile sequence, performs, and movies, The West Wing stays a cultural touchstone years after it went off the air. However, at its onset, the sequence was a non secular successor to Sorkin’s The American President, a movie whose script ultimately gave method to his quintessential work of political fiction. 

Aaron Sorkin is taken into account to be a triple risk

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Sorkin bought his begin as a playwright when he was making an attempt to interrupt by way of as an entertainer in New York City. However, after discovering a ardour for playwriting, Sorkin’s profession was by no means the identical.

He began out writing at Syracuse University, however by 1988 he made his identify within the large leagues. His third play, A Few Good Men, would change his life without end. 

Sorkin grew to become a triple-threat, writing for tv, movie, and stage — all of which introduced him related acclaim. However, whereas A Few Good Men’s movie adaptation bought Sorkin a good quantity of success, awards, and accolades, The West Wing made him a family identify in ways in which many playwrights and screenwriters might by no means dream of. Sorkin’s pure, snappy dialogue mixed with the correct stability of theatricality and grounded stability made him one in all Hollywood’s most sought-after writers.

After The West Wing led to 2006, Sorkin tried to recreate his previous glory with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which lasted just one season, and the Newsroom, which introduced him first rate, albeit far much less strong, acclaim. However, Sorkin bought a resurgence after writing the hit movies The Social Network, Moneyball, and Steve Jobs. 

Now, he’s gotten into directing, entering into that chair along with his final two scripts for Molly’s Game and The Trial of the Chicago 7. To many, nevertheless, The West Wing.

‘The West Wing’ has a robust legacy

The cast of 'The West Wing.'
L to R: Allison Janney as Claudia Jean ‘C.J.’ Cregg, Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler, John Spencer as Leo McGarry, Martin Sheen as President Josiah ‘Jed’ Bartlet, Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn, Dule Hill as Charlie Young, Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman | NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

RELATED: ‘The West Wing’: NBC Gave Show Creators Strange Edits That They Thankfully Rejected

One of the early adopters of a cinematic type on tv, The West Wing was a distinct sort of political drama. While the present centered closely on Martin Sheen’s President Jed Bartlet, it was simply as a lot concerning the folks round him.

Thanks to an all-star class, together with Sheen, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, Bradley Whitford, Dule Hill, and Stockard Channing, the present was an enormous hit. Those who had been already stars bought a second wind of their sale and those that didn’t rapidly turn into family names.

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The present centered not solely on the politics behind the Bartlett presidency but in addition on the human drama beneath. To today, the present’s legacy is as robust because it ever was.

For 4 of its seven years on air, Sorkin was the lifeblood behind the present. His skill to faucet into the human nature that made the challenge work was what made these first 4 years particular. However, the present could possibly be seen as a cheerful accident that got here from one other Sorkin script. 

How Aaron Sorkin wrote ‘The West Wing’

Martin Sheen in 'The West Wing.'Martin Sheen in 'The West Wing.'
Martin Sheen as President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet on ‘The West Wing.’ | Scott Garfield/NBCU Photo Bank

Sorkin reportedly was requested to satisfy with producer John Wells, of ER fame. Sorkin agreed to the assembly though he reportedly had little interest in tv.

“The next day I walked into the restaurant and immediately saw this wasn’t what I thought it was going to be,” Sorkin informed Empire. “This wasn’t just a ‘hello, how are you?’ meeting, because John was sitting with a couple of agents and studio executives from Warner Bros. Right after I sat down, he said, ‘So what do you want to do?’ And instead of saying, ‘I think there’s been a misunderstanding, I don’t have an idea for a television series,’ which would’ve been honest, I said ‘I want to do a television series about senior staffers at the White House.’ He said, ‘Okay, you got a deal.’”

As for the script, he had a head begin. “If I’m writing a script, really 90 percent of it would be just walking around, climbing the walls, just trying to put the idea together. Then the final 10 percent would be writing it,” Sorkin added to Empire. “Fortunately I had written a really lengthy first draft of The American President: about 385 pages, when what you need is 130 or 140. So there have been these tiny shards of concepts and one in all them, about Cuban refugees, I used to be in a position to spin right into a pilot.”

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Sorkin is notoriously one of many hardest-working writers within the business. While he was writing The West Wing, he was additionally writing a present referred to as Sports Night. To perceive The West Wing, one has to understand how Sorkin works. He is a person with large concepts that typically can’t be contained. Sorkin defined his work with the LA Times.

“I was the kind of addict who was functional–I was actually writing good material,” he says. “But I didn’t see people or talk to people. I’d fax my pages over to Rob at 7 a.m. and after we’d talked about it, I’d close the curtains and start writing again.”

This is why the unique script was almost 400 pages lengthy, and it helps clarify why The American Presidentwhich is a pro-government film a couple of strong-willed president who desires to do what is correct for the nation, has a lot in frequent with The West Wing. Sorkin used these concepts that he was pressured to chop out of the unique script and made them right into a pilot, sequence, and tv legacy. 

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