Twenty years after winning a DGA award for The West Wing in the Dramatic Series category, guild president Thomas Schlamme found himself winning again tonight for the Aaron Sorkin series in the Variety/Talk/News/Sports – Specials slot.
Schlamme won for directing the HBO Max Oct. 15 reunion A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote. The special repped the first time in 17 years that the original cast of the Emmy- and Peabody Award–winning hit drama series came together with Sorkin and Schlamme for a special theatrical stage presentation of the “Hartsfield’s Landing” episode from the show’s third season. The West Wing stars Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, and Martin Sheen reprised their roles from the episode. Additionally, the special had special guest appearance act breaks by When We All Vote co-chair Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Tonight’s win repped Schlamme’s fifth DGA award. Prior to tonight, he was most recently recognized in 2017, with the Robert B. Aldrich Achievement Award.
“Hartsfield’s Landing” originally aired February 27, 2002 on NBC. The episode finds Sheen’s President Bartlet engaging both Sam (Rob Lowe) and Toby (Richard Schiff) in intricate chess matches that mirror the wily game of brinksmanship that Bartlet is playing with the Chinese, who are conducting war games in the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese threaten real war if Taiwan begins test firing its new U.S.-made Patriot defense missiles. Meanwhile, Josh (Bradley Whitford) is nervous about the 42 votes in a remote New Hampshire town’s election, which are counted immediately and always predict the winner of that state’s primary. Mischievous C.J. (Allison Janney) tries to upset Charlie (Dulé Hill) by hiding his copy of the President’s top-secret daily schedule — prompting a spate of playful tricks. The episode was written by Sorkin and directed by Vincent Misiano.
Emmy-winning composer W.G. Snuffy Walden performed The West Wing score on guitar, and folk rock band The Avett Brothers closed out the special.
When We All Vote was founded to increase participation in America’s elections. WarnerMedia made a donation to the organization.