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'The West Wing' oral history: 9 things you didn't know or forgot

Since Frank Underwood became president on Netflix’s House of Cards, I’ve had this geek fantasy of him debating Josiah Bartlet, Martin Sheen’s idealistic and professorial president from The West Wing. Bartlet’s Washington, D.C., was the proverbial shining city on a hill, a place where intelligent, well-intentioned people gravitated to do the peoples’ business. Underwood’s capital is the nasty underbelly of a trough coated by man’s craven pursuit of power for power’s sake. It’s practically Kennedy’s Camelot versus Nixononian realpolitik. To paraphrase Anthony Hopkins’ Nixon in Oliver Stone’s 1995 movie, “When [people] look at The West Wing, they see what they want to be. When they look at House of Cards, they see what they are.”

The West Wing was a political world worth aspiring to, and eight years after the show went off the air, many young politicos — more liberal than conservative, of course — reference Aaron Sorkin’s show as an early influence that pointed them towards D.C. The Hollywood Reporter recently published an oral history, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the show’s premiere, with Sorkin, showrunner Tommy Schlamme, and many from the cast and crew contributing. It’s a fun, nostalgic read, one that digs into several what-ifs and reinforces my belief that Bartlet would debate “There’s No ‘U’ and ‘I’ in Education” Underwood under the table.

1. Martin Sheen was practically an accidental president

The show first offered the nation’s top job to Sidney Poitier, and Jason Robards was high on everyone’s list, but the 77-year-old was not in good health and would die in 2000. Hal Holbrook and John Cullum (ER) also read for the part. But Sheen, who’d worked with Sorkin on The American President, was a natural who made the showrunners reconsider the size of the role of their president. READ FULL STORY

Rob Lowe on why he's leaving 'Parks and Recreation': 'Amy Poehler's a prick'

Rob Lowe wants you to know the real reason he’s leaving Parks and Recreation along with co-star Rashida Jones halfway through the season.

“Amy Poehler has deeply offended both of us, and we’re not having it. You know, I have boundaries,” Lowe told David Letterman. “Amy Poehler is a prick, you know, what are you going to do,” he jokingly added.

Watch the video below: READ FULL STORY

'Hart to Hart' plus 'Austin Powers' reunion: Rob Lowe poses with Robert Wagner -- PHOTO

EW’s Hart to Hart reunion didn’t take place atop a moving train or inside a dastardly villain’s weather chamber. Instead, we brought the Harts — Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers — to the set of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, where they were interviewed by eager Hart to Hart superfans Adam Scott and Amy Poehler. (Scott and Poehler re-created the detective romance’s opening credits in the last installment of Scott’s occasional Adult Swim special, The Greatest Event in Television History.)

During Wagner and Powers’ photoshoot, another Parks and Rec star stopped by to say hello: Rob Lowe, who played a younger version of Wagner’s evil Austin Powers character in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Both Number 2s — plus Powers; Stefanie, not Austin — gladly posed for the above group shot. Not pictured: The dog brought in to play Jonathan and Jennifer Hart’s beloved pup Freeway, who was a big hit on set with both the stars and the crew.

See more of Wagner, Powers, Scott, and Poehler on Facebook, where fans of EW’s page can unlock an exclusive video of Poehler and Scott seeing if Wagner and Powers remember some of the series’ craziest plotlines. And yes, the weather chamber comes up.

Watch 22 glorious minutes of 'Parks and Recreation' season 5 bloopers -- VIDEO

A Parks and Rec gag reel that’s as long as an actual episode of Parks and Rec? That sounds like LIT-trally the greatest thing that has ever existed.

Warning: NSFW language ahead, along with many scenes of Chris Pratt giggling.

READ FULL STORY

Fall TV Wish List: What we want from the new (and last?) season of 'Parks and Recreation'

Here at EW, Fall TV Wish List is a new weekly series in which our TV critics Melissa Maerz and Jeff Jensen weigh in on what they hope the coming season will bring for some of their favorite shows. Today: NBC’s Parks and Recreation, which premieres its sixth season on Sept. 26.

WHERE WE LEFT OFF
Ace “detective” work by Bert Macklin revealed that manly-man master woodsman Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) and his mustache (as himself) had conceived a child with his single mom girlfriend Diane (Lucy Lawless). After refusing to sell Rent-A-Swag to a mystery buyer (Diddy?!), Tom (Aziz Ansari) learned that said mystery buyer was opening a rival shop across the street. April (Aubrey Plaza) was accepted to Veterinary School; wither the impact on her marriage to Andy (Chris Pratt)? And after a seemingly successful rookie year as a crusading councilwoman, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) was sandbagged during Founders’ Week by a flotilla of Knope haters who announced they were launching a recall campaign. At least she has local porn star Brandi Maxxx in her corner. That’s gotta be worth something, right?
READ FULL STORY

EW's Morning Bite: And the best sound bite from last night is...

Submitted by LOL:

“Fun fact: Ben just got an amazing accounting job. Regular fact: I have to go to a meeting. Unfun fact: My Uncle just had a stroke.”

–Chris (Rob Lowe) on Parks and Recreation

Check out the rest of your quote submissions from Thursday, Sept. 15 and come back tonight to share your pick for best sound bite!

Read more:
‘Parks and Recreation’ review: Did Joe Biden seem awkward? Knope!
‘Parks and Rec': The 5 best moments from ‘Ben’s Parents’
Vice President Joe Biden to guest on ‘Parks and Recreation’ — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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