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Spin City

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Spin City

Spin City
Season 1 intertitle
Created by Gary David Goldberg
Bill Lawrence
Starring Michael J. Fox (seasons 1–4)
Charlie Sheen (seasons 5–6)
Carla Gugino (first 12 episodes)
Heather Locklear (seasons 4–6)
Richard Kind
Michael Boatman
Alan Ruck
Connie Britton (seasons 1–4)
Alexander Chaplin (seasons 1–4)
Victoria Dillard (seasons 1–4)
Jennifer Esposito (seasons 2–3)
Lana Parrilla (season 5)
with Barry Bostwick as The Mayor
Theme music composer Shelley Palmer (seasons 1-4)
Danny Pelfrey (seasons 5–6)
Opening theme Spin Doctors (Seasons 2–3)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 145 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Gary David Goldberg (seasons 1–3, 5–6)
Michael J. Fox (seasons 1–4)
Bill Lawrence (season 3)
David S. Rosenthal
Andy Cadiff (season 4)
Tom Hertz (season 6)
Camera setup Film; Multiple camera
Running time 20 minutes
Production company(s) Ubu Productions
Lottery Hill Entertainment
DreamWorks Television
Distributor Paramount Domestic Television (2000-2006)
CBS Paramount Domestic Television (2006-2007)
CBS Television Distribution (2007-2009)
Disney-ABC Domestic Television (2009-present)
Original channel ABC
Picture format 480i (SDTV; entire run)
720p (HDTV; season 6)
Original release September 17, 1996 (1996-09-17) – April 30, 2002 (2002-04-30)

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: Charlie Sheen assumed the lead role of Charlie Crawford for the remaining two seasons. The show was cancelled in 2002 due to low ratings.


  • Premise 1
    • Later years 1.1
  • Characters 2
  • Ratings 3
  • Awards and nominations 4
  • DVD releases 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The series focuses on the Mayor of New York City, 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, this relationship is shown to be the main premise of the show. After just a few episodes into the series, Gugino decided to leave. 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

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] He later moved to Washington, D.C. as an environmental lobbyist, 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 (like Stacey, their absences are presumed to be because the actors felt the show should not continue without Fox), replaced by assistant Angie Ordonez (Lana Parrilla), who likewise left after one season without explanation (Parrilla feeling the character was underused).


Actor Role Years Seasons Episodes
Michael J. Fox Mike Flaherty 1996–2000, 2001 1–4, 6 (3 episodes) 103
Charlie Sheen Charlie Crawford 2000–2002 5-6 45
Carla Gugino Ashley Schaeffer 1996, 1997 1 (12 episodes), 3 (1 episode) 13
Heather Locklear Caitlin Moore 1999–2002 4–6 71
Richard Kind Paul Lassiter 1996–2002 1–6 145
Michael Boatman Carter Heywood 1996–2002 1–6 145
Alan Ruck Stuart Bondek 1996–2002 1–6 140
Connie Britton Nikki Faber 1996–2000 1–4 100
Alexander Chaplin James Hobert 1996–2000 1–4 100
Victoria Dillard Janelle Cooper 1996–2000 1 (recurring), 2–4 (starring) 90
Jennifer Esposito Stacey Paterno 1997–1999 2–3 46
Lana Parrilla Angie Ordonez 2000–2001 5 21
Barry Bostwick Mayor Randall Winston 1996–2002 1–6 144
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 womaniser, Flaherty lives in a New York 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.
  • Charlie Sheen as Charlie Crawford, Mike's replacement for the final two seasons. He, too, is a womaniser and at first struggles to keep his troubled 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.
  • 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.
  • 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's 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Near the end of the show, Rags dies, and in the same season, Carter decides he will adopt a baby, which he does in the final episode, a boy, named Sam.
  • 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.
  • 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-again-off-again 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. While he is first the speech writer, 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.
  • 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. 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • Barry Bostwick, as Mayor Randall Winston, the dim-witted Mayor of New York City. At one point during the show, he runs for the Senate, although between seasons he apparently decided not to. He develops a relationship with his secretary Janelle during season three. At the beginning of the show, he is married, although he gets divorced during the show's run and his now ex-wife writes a tell-all book about life with the Mayor. During the final season, he develops a relationship with Judge Claire Simmons, played by Farrah Fawcett, but she dumps him when she reveals she does not want to live life in the public eye like the mayor.


Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Spin City.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.

Season Season premiere Season finale TV season Ranking Rating
1st September 17, 1996 May 13, 1997 1996–1997 #17[6] 11.7[6]
2nd September 24, 1997 May 20, 1998 1997–1998 #47[7] 8.4[7]
3rd September 22, 1998 May 25, 1999 1998–1999 #25[8] 9.1[8]
4th September 21, 1999 May 24, 2000 1999–2000 #33[9] 8.7[9]
5th October 18, 2000 May 23, 2001 2000–2001 #53[10] 7.1[10]
6th September 25, 2001 April 30, 2002 2001–2002 #72[11] 5.5[11]

Awards and nominations

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.

DVD releases

Shout! Factory has released all six seasons of Spin City on DVD in Region 1.[12]

DreamWorks released two best-of sets entitled "Michael J. Fox – His All Time Favorites" Vols. 1 and 2 in 2003, both 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 24 April 28, 2009
The Complete Third Season 26 November 3, 2009
The Complete Fourth Season 26 February 15, 2011
The Complete Fifth Season 23 August 16, 2011
The Complete Sixth and Final Season 22 December 13, 2011

See also


  1. ^ a b "Carter On Spin City Was A Breakthrough Black Gay Male Character". Mar 25, 2008. 
  2. ^
  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 " 
  5. ^ "". Crossover between Family Ties and Spin City. Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b "Complete TV Ratings 1996-1997". July 26, 2002. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  7. ^ a b "Final Ratings for '97-'98 TV Season". May 25, 1998. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  8. ^ a b "Final ratings for the 1998-1999 TV season". Archived from the original on October 29, 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  9. ^ a b "TV Ratings 1999-2000". July 26, 2002. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  10. ^ a b "TV Ratings 2000–2001". Retrieved January 9, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b "How did your favorite show rate?". Usatoday.Com. May 28, 2002. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  12. ^

External links

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