Richard Schiff not thrilled with West Wing


Ah, someone from the cast who feels the same as longtime West Wing fans.


 Richard Schiff, who plays Toby Ziegler on the show wanted to leave the show.


In an article about a play he is in, Schiff talks about the show: "It’s been time for me to move on for quite a while actually. You know, the money was very good and that’s what kind of drew me back because I felt like after five years of 70-hour weeks that I kind of deserved to get a little bit of a payoff. And the money got very good in the last two years. I wanted to leave and then we kind of made a compromise that I would come back and give them a story that they could use to lead me going out.

They came up with firing him… That wasn’t my idea! Between you and me – and you can print this – Toby wouldn’t have done that in ten million years! But, you know, it’s not my show…And now it’s even greatly sad because of John Spencer’s passing. I certainly, honestly, don’t want to go back for another season without Johnny there. I couldn’t imagine The West Wing without Toby Ziegler and I couldn’t imagine it without Leo McGarrey as well. It’s just not possible. So, it might move on and become another show and that’s fine. It’s important for people to know that I really, really loved this Toby character. And I really loved the people on The West Wing.

Allison Janney is my soulmate on the set and John Spencer was just one of the most fascinating, wonderful human beings I’ve ever met. And Martin Sheen is singularly the best human being I’ve ever met. Tommy Schlamme who used to run the show and Aaron Sorkin and his writing and some of the writers who tried to fill his footsteps are truly wonderfully gifted and they’re family and I love them to death. I just feel like it’s time to get out of the kitchen once in a while.


It’s time to move on.



Sam Seaborn: Toby, do you really think it’s a good idea to invite people to dinner and then to tell them exactly what they’re doing wrong with their lives?

Toby Ziegler: Absolutely, otherwise it’s just a waste of food.





Toby was born December 23, 1954. His childhood and family are not fully known; he is from a lower-class background, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York; his father, Julie Ziegler, who, according to one episode, "needed the G.I. Bill," probably fought in the Korean War, and also worked for Murder Incorporated and later served time in prison, complicating their relationship somewhat (Note: Holy Night suggests that Julie Ziegler was still involved with Murder, Inc. at the time of Toby’s birth – however, in reality, Murder, Inc. had largely disappeared by the end of the 1940’s).

Toby’s other relatives are less visible on the show; he mentions at one point that his sisters took him to protest rallies in the mid-sixties. Toby also had a younger brother, David, who was a mission specialist at NASA and who later committed suicide after learning he had a terminal illness. Toby’s character is a rather morose, cynical fellow, a characteristic that is reflected in his typical wardrobe – usually dull shades of grey and brown. He seldom smiles and yells often, yet he is something of an idealist, often less willing than his colleagues (the president included) to compromise on his political values.

Toby’s education is less well-established than that of his colleagues. He attended the City College of New York, but his undergraduate major or any postgraduate degrees are unknown. Before joining the Bartlet for America presidential campaign, Ziegler was a political consultant who worked for various political campaigns such as New York City Council seats, Bronx borough president and House and Senate races.

Toby is a fan of the New York Yankees baseball team. In "Posse Comitatus," the show’s third-season finale, first airing on May 22, 2002, he claimed to have attended 441 games at Yankee Stadium. If he saw his first game there at the age of seven, in the 1962 season, and the show progresses in real time, this works out to about eleven games per season, though it is not clear if he could keep up this pace once he began working at the White House.

Toby’s ex-wife, Andrea ‘Andie’ Wyatt, is a U.S. Congresswoman and liberal Democrat from Maryland. During the fourth season, it was revealed that Toby and his ex-wife had conceived twins together. His ex-wife is later sued by a right wing group on grounds that her nondisclosure of her pregnancy during her campaign for re-election constituted election fraud. She has repeatedly turned down Toby’s proposals for re-marriage. Toby and Andrea’s children were born the same day Zoey Bartlet, President Bartlet’s daughter, was kidnapped. They are named Huckleberry and Molly. Huck is named after his maternal great-grandfather, and Molly is named after the Secret Service agent who was killed attempting to prevent Zoey’s kidnapping.

Toby is a committed Jew, who regularly attends synagogue on Saturdays. Some details, including the presence of a female cantor and an organ, suggest he attends a Reform temple.


Posted on January 19, 2006, in The West Wing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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