So much for the West Wing retrospective

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/05/10 03:00 -04:00, original URI:

I would prefer to claim that somehow, when I was not looking, the quality of news reporting took a real downward turn.

But I would probably need to ignore that it always seems to have had a problem....

The recent example started (for me) with a story written by David Bauder, an Associated Press Television writer. The headline was NBC Cancels 'The West Wing' Retrospective.

It hints at the reasons:

NBC had no official comment on the switch of plans. However, the network couldn't reach an agreement with the show's cast on what - or if - they would be paid to gather one last time and reminisce about their experience, said a person close to the show who would speak about the negotiations only on condition of anonymity.

Showing the very first episode of "The West Wing" costs NBC nothing because the production was long-since paid for.

Then there was another story, this one entitled 'WEST WING' CLIP EPISODE VETOED from a New York Post columnist, Michael Starr, which took a possibly less objective route:

...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.

To shore up the research on the article, Mr. Starr took the Pullitzer Prize winning step of going to the shows message board, to pick up the opinions on import contacts such as bluemeister, TheMuse, and Neurosurgeon, who all manage to offer unique insights into the reasons behind the greed of the networks.

On the other hand, King 5's 11:00 news (NBC's Seattle affiliate), right after the important news about the amazing appearance of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in Aberdeen, WA (they posted video of this landmark event at if you are into that sort of thing), they reported:

Don't expect to see The West Wing actors waxing nostalgic as their series ends.

NBC pulled the plug on a retrospective show that was supposed to air before the one-hour finale on Sunday.

The network asked the cast to sit down and reflect on the series, but [pause] that was scrapped because the actors reportedly asked for too much money.

Instead of the retrospective, viewers will see the very first West Wing from 1999, followed by the series finale.

And of course while this was being voiced over, they were showing stock footage. At the point where the anchor was saying "but [pause] that was scrapped because the actors reportedly asked for too much money", most of the screen time was taken up mostly by John Spencer, the least likely person to be asking for more money from the network (given that he passed away?).

Now I have no industry contacts to ask about what really happen. But even if you look at additional coverage, there is no more substance about the real reasons behind the decision -- certainly not enough to make it news enough for coverage by newpaper columnists, AP, and local news.

Or maybe it is just always this way. I mean, the commercials before the news mentioned specifically the West Wing story and the Holmes/Cruise appearance story. Never mind the actual news. :-(

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