NEW YORK – For prime-time's most popular President, the road back to the White House starts next month on The West Wing.
The critically acclaimed drama will open the new fall season with President Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen) announcing that he will run for a second term, NBC says.
Fans know that last season ended in a scandal, of sorts. President Bartlet hadn't told voters that he was suffering from multiple sclerosis when he was first elected.
The final episode ended with Bartlet addressing a rabid White House press corps wanting to know if he would seek re-election. At the time, he was struggling with the death of his secretary and longtime friend, Mrs. Landingham, played by Kathryn Joosten.
The announcement of his decision to run for re-election was firmly foreshadowed in a flashback scene, in which a young Mrs. Landingham observes that Bartlet puts his hands into his pockets when he resolves to take on a tough assignment. Bartlet is seen doing that in the final moments of the season finale.
The West Wing, though only two seasons old, has made a small tradition of ending each season with a cliffhanger.
And NBC has been heavily promoting the season premiere.
The season opener will come just three days after the 53rd Annual Emmy Awards show, which West Wing is expected to sweep. It received 18 nominations this year, second only to the 22 for the HBO mob opera The Sopranos.
The season premiere of the Emmy-winning White House drama is set to air on Sept. 19.
NBC would like to get back to the fictional drama of the The West Wing — one of its highest rated dramas alongside ER and Law & Order — because the real-life people connected to the show have been making too many headlines of late.
Last spring, its creator, Aaron Sorkin, was arrested on drug charges at a Burbank airport. Sorkin later pleaded guilty to possession charges and was sentenced to rehab.
Last month, four of the show's co-stars refused to report for work on the new season and threatened to strike for more money.