Spin City

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Spin City
Spin City - title.jpg
Season 1 intertitle
Created byGary David Goldberg
Bill Lawrence
Theme music composerSpin Doctors (seasons 2–3)
Composer(s)Shelley Palmer (seasons 1-4)
Danny Pelfrey (seasons 5–6)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes145 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Gary David Goldberg (seasons 1–2, 5–6)
Michael J. Fox (seasons 1–4)
Bill Lawrence (seasons 3-4)
Andy Cadiff (season 4)
Richard Day (season 4)
David S. Rosenthal (season 4)
Tom Hertz (season 6)
Camera setupFilm; Multi-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Ubu Productions
Lottery Hill Entertainment
DreamWorks Television
DistributorParamount Domestic Television
Original networkABC
Picture format480i (SDTV; entire run)
720p (HDTV; season 6)
Original releaseSeptember 17, 1996 (1996-09-17) – April 30, 2002 (2002-04-30)
External links

Spin City is an American television sitcom that aired from September 17, 1996, until April 30, 2002, on ABC. Created by Gary David Goldberg and Bill Lawrence, the show was based on a fictional local government running New York City, and originally starred Michael J. Fox as Mike Flaherty, the Deputy Mayor of New York. Fox departed in 2000 at the conclusion of Season 4 due to his battle with Parkinson's disease, and Charlie Sheen assumed the lead role of Charlie Crawford for the remaining two seasons. The show was cancelled in 2002 due to low ratings.


The series presents a fictional local government running New York City and follows its Mayor Randall Winston (Barry Bostwick) and his staff as they run the city, although the main person in charge is Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty (Fox). Mike is excellent at his job, dealing with spin and lies, but not so good with his personal life, which he often neglects. Other members of staff at City Hall include press secretary Paul Lassiter (Richard Kind), the office cheapskate, suck-up, and noted coward, who has a habit of being a loudmouth and is often kept in the dark about things; chief of staff Stuart Bondek (Alan Ruck), who loves the ladies, and is often very sexist; and head of minority affairs Carter Heywood (Michael Boatman), a gay black man with a suicidal dog named Rags.

Carter Heywood was seen as a revolution in modern television. As the writer Orville Lloyd Douglas noted on his blog GayBlackCanadianman, "Far too often whenever a character is gay on television it's always a white person. In North America gayness equals whiteness and gay black men are displaced due to race, gender, and sexual orientation. Finally, the writers and producers of Spin City got it right. Carter was a well adjusted young black man he wasn't on the down low, he also wasn’t confused or conflicted about his homosexuality."[1] Despite their overwhelming personal differences, Stuart and Carter actually become roommates and best friends.

Also on the staff are speech writer James Hobert (Alexander Chaplin), who is easily led and quite naive; Mike's secretary Janelle Cooper (Victoria Dillard); and accountant Nikki Faber (Connie Britton). Janelle later becomes the mayor's secretary and Stacey Paterno (Jennifer Esposito) joins the show as Mike's secretary and Paul's arch-enemy. Together, this group helps run City Hall, improves the Mayor's image, and covers for his frequent gaffes—while sorting out their personal lives.

At one point in development, the show was simply called Spin.[2] At the start of the series, Mike is dating reporter Ashley Schaeffer (Carla Gugino). In early promos for the series, the relationship is shown to be the main premise of the show. After just a few episodes, however, Ashley and Mike broke up and the character was written out.

The nature of Carter and Stuart's relationship became a running gag during the series. The two ended up becoming so close, their friendship was mocked by others, and their arguments sounded so much like husband and wife, a whole episode was dedicated to the notion that the two argued like a married couple. The two ended up meeting an older duo of best friends (one black and one white) who were virtual twins of Carter and Stuart in terms of personality; when it was discovered that the two older versions had become a couple, it ended up scaring Stuart quite a bit. For his part, Stuart tends to be very possessive of his time with Carter, going so far as to be genuinely jealous when Carter spends more and more time with new campaign manager Caitlin (Heather Locklear). In spite of all the jokes and innuendo, they prove to be best friends willing to do anything for both their friends and each other. This, too, was considered an important moment in television history, with Douglas noting, "I love the fact that the writers of Spin City explored the fact that gay men and heterosexual men can be friends. The straight man doesn’t have to worry that the gay man might hit on him."[1]

Later years[edit]

In 1998, Michael J. Fox announced he had Parkinson's disease. As a result, a new character, Caitlin Moore (Locklear) was introduced at the start of the 1999–2000 season to help share Mike's workload. Caitlin was Mayor Winston's campaign manager as he decided to run for Senator, and much friction occurred between Mike and Caitlin about who was in charge of the mayor. Their relationship was more complex than a simple rivalry, and hints were dropped that it would become more than platonic.

In 2000, as his symptoms worsened, Fox announced he was leaving the show at the end of the season to spend more time with his family and to raise money for awareness of and research into Parkinson's.[3] His character left City Hall at the end of the show's fourth season, taking the blame for an alleged Mafia link the mayor unknowingly had.[4] A brief coda to the fourth-season finale revealed that the character moved to Washington, D.C., becoming an environmental lobbyist and there (offscreen) meeting a senator named Alex P. Keaton, the name of the character Fox played on Family Ties.[4][5] Executive Producer/co-creator Bill Lawrence also left the show, along with a few cast members and writers/producers.

The remaining producers decided to carry on the series with a new lead. For the show's fifth season, production moved from New York to Los Angeles, and Charlie Sheen, as new Deputy Mayor Charlie Crawford, joined Caitlin, Paul, Stuart, Carter, and the mayor. The characters of Nikki, James, and Janelle were not carried over; they were simply dropped without explanation, to be replaced by assistant Angie Ordonez (Lana Parrilla). This character likewise left after one season without explanation.


Actor Role Years Seasons Episodes
Michael J. Fox Mike Flaherty 1996–2000, 2001 1–4, 6 (3 episodes) 103
Carla Gugino Ashley Schaeffer 1996, 1998 1 (12 episodes), 3 (1 episode) 13
Richard Kind Paul Lassiter 1996–2002 1–6 145
Alan Ruck Stuart Bondek 1996–2002 1–6 140
Michael Boatman Carter Heywood 1996–2002 1–6 141
Connie Britton Nikki Faber 1996–2000 1–4 100
Alexander Chaplin James Hobert 1996–2000 1–4 100
Barry Bostwick Mayor Randall Winston 1996–2002 1–6 144
Victoria Dillard Janelle Cooper 1996–2000 1 (recurring), 2–4 (starring) 90
Jennifer Esposito Stacey Paterno 1997–1999 2 & 3 46
Heather Locklear Caitlin Moore 1999–2002 4–6 71
Charlie Sheen Charlie Crawford 2000–2002 5 & 6 45
Lana Parrilla Angie Ordonez 2000–2001 5 21
Faith Prince Claudia Sachs 1996–1999, 2000 1–3 (recurring), 5 (guest) 21
Rags the Dog Rags the Dog 1998–2002 3–6 (recurring) 20
  • Michael J. Fox as Mike Flaherty. Deputy Mayor of New York and a lothario, Flaherty lives in a New York City apartment and is constantly juggling his personal life and his job, trying to maintain a healthy balance between the two. Flaherty leaves the mayor's office at the end of season four, after taking the hit for an unknown mob connection the Mayor had (Fox left the series due to his battle with Parkinson's disease), but returns during the first three episodes of the sixth season, culminating in his marriage.
  • Carla Gugino as Ashley Schaeffer, a journalist and romantic interest for Mike during the first 12 episodes. She was written out when the show started to focus more on the workplace, but returned for one episode in season three.
  • Richard Kind, as Paul Lassiter, press secretary at City Hall. A known cheapskate and gullible member of the group, he is often the victim of practical jokes or slip-ups at City Hall. During the show, he marries Claudia Sachs, who in season five leaves him to become a nun. By the end of the show, he moves into an apartment across the hall from Carter and Stuart.
  • Alan Ruck, as Stuart Bondek, chief of staff at City Hall. He is shallow and sex-crazed, although he is unsuccessful at maintaining a relationship. Early on in the series, he moves into an apartment with Carter, which generates a clash of personalities as he is a homophobe and is generally wary of Carter's dog and his high-strung lifestyle, though they eventually become best friends.
  • Michael Boatman, as Carter Heywood, head of Minority Affairs at City Hall. His character was met with positive reaction because of his portrayal as a prominent gay black character in a TV series. Carter owns a suicidal old dog named Rags, who dies near the end of the series. In the same season, Carter decides he will adopt a baby; in the final episode he welcomes a boy named Sam.
  • Connie Britton, as Nikki Faber, a co-worker at City Hall. She is promiscuous and outgoing and often dates unreliable men. She develops an on/off relationship with Mike. She leaves after season four for unknown reasons.
  • Alexander Chaplin, as James Hobert, a speech writer at City Hall. He is shown to be nervous and paranoid, and early in the show has a crush on Nikki. During season four, he is fired in favor of Caitlin being hired as marketing campaigner, and James is hired as Mike's secretary, although he is led to believe his position is as 'Deputy Deputy Mayor'. He also leaves after season four for unknown reasons.
  • Barry Bostwick, as Mayor Randall Winston, the incompetent Mayor of New York City. At one point during the show he runs for the Senate, although between seasons he apparently changed his mind. He is married at the beginning of the show but gets divorced during its run and his ex-wife writes a tell-all book about life with the Mayor. He develops a relationship with his secretary Janelle during season three. During the final season, he develops a relationship with Judge Claire Simmons (Farrah Fawcett), but she dumps him when she reveals she does not want to live life in the public eye.
  • Victoria Dillard, as Janelle Cooper, Mike's secretary during the first season, promoted to the Mayor's secretary during the second. She develops a relationship with the Mayor during season three. The characters Janelle, James and Nikki were written out of the show with no explanation when actors Dillard, Chaplin, and Britton left the show after season four because of the show's move from New York to Los Angeles.[citation needed] Dillard was part of the recurring cast during season one, but was promoted to the main cast for the rest of her tenure on the show.
  • Jennifer Esposito, as Stacey Paterno, who replaced Janelle as Mike's secretary for seasons two and three after Janelle became the Mayor's secretary. She is from Brooklyn and is shown to be very outgoing, much like Nikki. She left the cast after advice from director Spike Lee.[citation needed] Her absence is never explained in the show, although it is pointed out that a new secretary for Mike is needed, and her role is replaced by James, who was once the speech writer.
  • Heather Locklear, as Caitlin Moore, introduced into the show in season four to ease Michael J. Fox's workload after he announced he had Parkinson's disease. She is brought onto the staff as marketing campaigner, and takes James' old desk, while James becomes Mike's secretary. She becomes romantically involved with both leads by the end of each of their respective tenures on the show.
  • Charlie Sheen as Charlie Crawford, Mike's replacement for the final two seasons. He, too, is a lothario and at first struggles to keep his difficult past from getting in the way of his new job. He eventually becomes romantically involved with Caitlin by the end of the series' run. He is also romantically involved with Jennifer Duncan, played by Sheen's real-life partner at the time, Denise Richards; his father is also played by Sheen's real-life father Martin Sheen.
  • Lana Parrilla, as Angie Ordonez, Charlie's secretary. She was only featured in season five, as Parrilla left following the season, thinking her character was underused. No secretary is shown during season six, and her desk is left empty. Some of the cast are shown using it, albeit not permanently, implying Charlie is no longer using a secretary and the desk is filling other roles.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedNielsen ratings[6]
First airedLast airedRankRating
124September 17, 1996 (1996-09-17)May 13, 1997 (1997-05-13)1711.7
224September 24, 1997 (1997-09-24)May 20, 1998 (1998-05-20)N/AN/A
326September 22, 1998 (1998-09-22)May 25, 1999 (1999-05-25)259.2
426September 21, 1999 (1999-09-21)May 24, 2000 (2000-05-24)249.1
523October 18, 2000 (2000-10-18)May 23, 2001 (2001-05-23)N/AN/A
622September 25, 2001 (2001-09-25)April 30, 2002 (2002-04-30)N/AN/A

Awards and nominations[edit]

Michael J. Fox won one Primetime Emmy, out of four nominations. The show won four Golden Globes (three for Fox and one for Charlie Sheen), out of its nine nominations.

Home media[edit]

Shout! Factory has released all six seasons of Spin City on DVD in Region 1.[7]

DreamWorks released two best-of sets entitled "Michael J. Fox – His All Time Favorites" Vols. 1 and 2 in 2003, each containing 11 episodes. All 22 episodes are taken from the four seasons containing Fox, each starting with a brief interview in which he describes what he likes about the episode. In the 2003 interviews, Fox shows symptoms of his ongoing illness. Both DVD boxes contain bonus material with fund-raising TV commercials for Parkinson's disease research, starring the Spin City cast.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season 24 November 4, 2008
The Complete Second Season 23 April 28, 2009
The Complete Third Season 25 November 3, 2009
The Complete Fourth Season 25 February 15, 2011
The Complete Fifth Season 22 August 16, 2011
The Complete Sixth and Final Season 22 December 13, 2011

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Carter On Spin City Was A Breakthrough Black Gay Male Character". Mar 25, 2008.
  2. ^ "The Art of Picking TV Titles: 9 Do's and Don'ts". yahoo.com. March 9, 2012.
  3. ^ Rice, Lynette (January 18, 2000). "'Spin' Out, The three-time Emmy nominee plans to devote himself to his family". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  4. ^ a b "Goodbye Pt. 2". Spin City. Season 4. Episode 26. 2000-05-24. ABC.
  5. ^ "Poobala.com". Crossover between Family Ties and Spin City. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  6. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (Ninth Edition). Ballantine Books. pp. 1694–1695. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
  7. ^ "Spin City DVD news: Announcement for Spin City - The Complete 6th Season - TVShowsOnDVD.com". tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on September 26, 2011.

External links[edit]