Broadway's Alda and Smits Battle for White House on Live "West Wing" Debate | Playbill

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News Broadway's Alda and Smits Battle for White House on Live "West Wing" Debate Broadway stars Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits will go head to head — in character — for the upcoming presidential debate on a live episode on NBC's political drama "The West Wing."
"The West Wing" stars Alan Alda, Martin Sheen and Jimmy Smits. Photo by NBC Universal Photo

The Emmy Award-winning drama series will air its live as-yet-untitled episode, Nov. 6 at 8 PM on both coasts. Executive producer Lawrence O'Donnell pens the episode while fellow executive producer Alex Graves directs.

In a race for the new White House, Alda — who plays Republic candidate Senator Arnold Vinick — and Smits — who portrays Democratic contender Congressman Matt Santos — will engage in a debate for the presidency as part of the live episode.

"The West Wing," which centers on the titular area of the White House, stars Martin Sheen as President Josiah Bartlet. The show features many performers with stage experience including regulars John Spencer (Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine), Allison Janney (A View From the Bridge), Dulé Hill (Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk), Bradley Whitford (A Few Good Men), Richard Schiff (The Exonerated), Joshua Malina (A Few Good Men) and Tony Award winner Stockard Channing (Joe Egg).

Alda (Glengarry Glen Ross) and Smits (Anna in the Tropics) have joined the cast this season with fellow Broadway brethren Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked) and Mary McCormack (Cabaret).

Alda, known for his Emmy Award-winning television work on "M*A*S*H," has appeared on the Broadway stage in the Art, QED, Jake's Women, The Apple Tree, The Owl and the Pussycat, Fair Game for Lovers, Purlie Victorious and Only in America. The actor recently marked his return to television with a 2000 Emmy nominated turn in a multi-episode story arc on NBC's hospital drama "ER." Smits, known for his work on television in "L.A. Law" and "NYPD Blues," made his Broadway debut in Anna in the Tropics. He has been seen Off-Broadway in Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Nightand Hamlet as part of The Public Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park series.

Other recent (some recurring) guest stars have included Mary-Louise Parker (Proof), Lily Tomlin (The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe), Anna Deavere Smith (Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992), John Goodmnn (Big River), Glenn Close (Sunset Boulevard), Joanna Gleason (Into The Woods), Harry Groener (Crazy For You), Kate Burton (Hedda Gabler), Cherry Jones (The Heiress), Dylan Baker (Eastern Standard) and Taye Diggs (Rent).

"The West Wing" is from John Wells Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television Production Inc. Wells serves as the executive producer along with Christopher Misiano, Alex Graves, Lawrence O'Donnell and Peter Noah. Aaron Sorkin is the creator.

The hour-long drama "The West Wing" airs on NBC Sunday nights at 8 PM (ET). Check your local listings. For more information, visit

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