'West Wing' Pays Tribute to Sorkin

During the inauguration scene in Sunday's series finale of "The West Wing," the camera panned to several people watching new President Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) being sworn into office.

There was outgoing President Bartlet (Martin Sheen), his wife, Abby (Stockard Channing), Santos' wife, Helen (Teri Polo) and Bartlet staffers-turned-Santos aides Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) and Donna Moss (Janel Moloney). And also one other guy whom you may not have recognized.

During bluesman Keb Mo's rendition of "America the Beautiful," the camera settled on none other than "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin for a wordless cameo. Considering he brought the show's version of the presidency to life, it seemed fitting that he would be on the Capitol steps to watch Santos take over for Bartlet.

Sorkin, however, did not create Santos. He and fellow executive producer Thomas Schlamme left "The West Wing" at the end of the show's fourth season; the campaign storyline that carried the show through its final days didn't kick in until season six.

The finale, written by executive producer John Wells, was a fairly understated affair, focusing on the outgoing Bartlet staff's transition back into civilian life and the Santos administration's move into the White House. It also paid tribute to cast member John Spencer, who died in December, by having his character's daughter (Allison Smith) pass on a memento from the past -- a cocktail napkin with the words "Bartlet for America" written on it -- to Bartlet.

Sorkin and Schlamme will return to NBC in the fall with a new series, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." The workplace drama, about a "Saturday Night Live"-esque sketch-comedy show, received its first on-air promotion during "The West Wing" finale.