Sorkin, Schlamme leaving West Wing

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The West Wing
creator, writer and executive producer Aaron Sorkin is
leaving the show, and executive producer Thomas Schlamme is going with him,
Sorkin announced Thursday.

Executive producer John Wells, whose production company has run the show from
the beginning, is taking over.

"Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme have done an extraordinary job in their four
years at the helm of The West Wing," NBC Entertainment president Jeff
Zucker and Warner Bros. Television president Peter Roth in a joint
statement.

"Aaron's brilliant writing and Tommy's gifted direction and leadership have
been the cornerstone of The West Wing's remarkable critical and ratings
success," they added. "Moving forward, we have asked executive producer John
Wells to assume a more active role next season, and he has graciously agreed. We
thank and applaud Aaron, Tommy and John for creating one of the finest shows to
ever air on television."

While Sorkin has written virtually every episode of The West Wing,
sources said the show has a writing staff in place that Warner Bros. and NBC
hope will be able to handle the writing duties without Sorkin.

Sorkin still has one year on his deal with Warner Bros. Television, and the
studio expects him to continue to develop other shows, sources said.

In January, NBC cut a deal with Warner Bros. for two more years of The
West Wing
at a license fee of approximately $7 million per episode, with an
option for a third year.

But the show, entering its fifth season, has been declining in the ratings
this year, particularly in its key adults-18-through-49 demographic, against
strong competition from ABC's The Bachelor franchise and the renewed
strength of Fox's comedies gaining on American Idol: Search for a
Superstar
's lead-in.

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