West Wing could fly to cable

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Warner Bros.' high-profile NBC series, The West Wing,
could be getting cable play as early as next season. Officially, an off-net run of the political drama won't be available until 2003. But a number of cable networks are apparently eager to get their hands on the Emmy award-winning series early, which, sources say, is being priced at $1.2 million per episode, with the stipulation that episodes not run in prime time (airing at 7 p.m. at the latest.)

Sources say A & E is one of the networks requesting an early shot, specifically a once-a-week, same-week airing of the series' NBC episode, as Lifetime does with the appropriately named Once & Again. One source at A&E says, "We've asked that it could be made available that way, looking at Once & Again's
run on ABC and Lifetime. It's a structure that seems to have legs." The executive adds that Warner Bros. "was open to the discussion. They didn't reject it out of hand" but were non-committal.

The price tag for The West Wing
squares with that reportedly fetched by the cable run of Warner Bros.' ER.