THR: Aaron, did they really approach you for Matthew’s job, as was reported?
Sorkin: No, no, they did not. I got in touch with Matt right away, saying, “It isn’t happening, and it won’t ever happen, and this is your show. I can tell you that.” I left The West Wing after the fourth season. It ran for seven seasons. And almost as soon as the press release went out saying that I was leaving, I got a call from Larry David, who’d left Seinfeld early, who said “Listen to me. Under no circumstances can you ever watch the show again. Either it’s going to be great and you’re gonna be miserable, or it’s gonna be less than great and you’re gonna be miserable. But either way, you’re gonna be miserable.” I thought, well, you know, it’s Larry David, he’s kind of professionally miserable. (Laughter.) So, at the beginning of the fifth season, Warner Bros. sent over a DVD of what would be episode 89, the first episode that I didn’t write. And I put it in the DVD player. And I can’t tell you whether it was great or not because less than 30 seconds after it started, I dove at the DVD player and slammed it off. It was like watching somebody make out with my girlfriend … so difficult to watch these characters in this world that I had created no longer needing me at all. Just doing it by themselves. I’ve never seen an episode of The West Wing beyond season four.
I’ve heard Sorkin tell the Larry David story before, but it only now occurs to me he probably didn’t watch the series finale, either. And he was in that.
“After filming the series finale, Martin Sheen, who played President Bartlet for seven years, got choked up when the crew and cast, including Allison Janney, gave him a final ovation.” —TV Guide May 2006
I have it on good authority (a friend’s friend who was on the set at the time) that this took place in the early-morning hours (as in, about 12:15 a.m.) on April 1, 2006.