''West Wing'' hits the road for its season opener. Hop on the campaign bandwagon as President Bartlet and his staffers try to drum up votes in the American heartland
Martin Sheen, The West Wing
Credit: The West Wing Photograph by Gail Albert Halaban

Texas may be Bush country. Democrats probably have a lock on California. But Volant, Pa., is definitely going Bartlet in 2004. Last month, Martin Sheen and his fellow ”West Wing”ers did a little cornfield campaigning in the town as part of the drama’s two-hour season opener (in which Jed Bartlet revs up his reelection bid), debuting Sept. 25.

The ersatz White House staffers stirred up as much commotion as a hanging chad in Broward County. ”People were calling to find out how they could meet the cast,” says Pittsburgh Film Office director Dawn Keezer, who did some heavy campaigning of her own to entice the show into making her neck of the woods a stand-in for Indiana. ”Over 1200 people auditioned to be extras.” And the Bartlet mania didn’t stop there. ”We thought our designer was setting up [‘Bartlet 2004’] banners in front of people’s houses,” laughs Janel Moloney, ”but [the locals] actually did it themselves.” And some showed their presidential approval in a more hands-on way. ”When we were between takes,” says Allison Janney, ”they’d line up by the hundreds and ask for autographs. Martin got mobbed.”

But not everyone in Volant was bowled over by the celebrity circus. ”The shakiest moment for us came when we were stumbling out of the Holiday Inn at around 6 a.m.,” recalls Bradley Whitford. ”And the lady working there looked at Richard [Schiff], Janel, and me and said, ‘You all sure look a lot better on TV.”’

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