Spin City is an American sitcom television series that aired from September 17, 1996 to April 30, 2002, on ABC. Created by Gary David Goldberg and Bill Lawrence, the show is set in a semi-fictionalized version of the New York City mayor's office, 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 symptoms of Parkinson's disease, and Charlie Sheen became the new lead as Charlie Crawford for the final two seasons. The series was cancelled after six seasons in May 2002.

Spin City
Spin City - title.jpg
Season 1 intertitle
Created by
Theme music composerSpin Doctors (seasons 2–3)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes145 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
Camera setupFilm; Multi-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production companies
DistributorParamount Domestic Television
CBS Paramount Domestic Television
CBS Television Distribution
Paramount Worldwide Television Licensing & Distribution
Original networkABC
Picture format
Original releaseSeptember 17, 1996 (1996-09-17) –
April 30, 2002 (2002-04-30)


The series presents a fictionalized version of the local government of 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 talented at his job, dealing with political spin and office chaos, but not so good managing his personal life, which he neglects. Other members of staff at City Hall include press secretary Paul Lassiter (Richard Kind), the office snitch and a manipulative coward, who has a habit of being a troublemaker and is often kept in the dark about things; chief of staff Stuart Bondek (Alan Ruck), who thinks of himself as a lothario and is highly 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 weak-willed and gullible; 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 nemesis. Together, this group helps run City Hall, improves the Mayor's image, and covers for his frequent mistakes—while sorting out their own personal issues.

At one point in development, the show was simply called Spin, which was changed when ABC was unable to secure rights to the name from the magazine of the same name.[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 separated 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 protective of his time with Carter, going so far as to be genuinely jealous when Carter spends more time with new campaign manager Caitlin (Heather Locklear). In spite of all the jokes and flirtations, they prove to be best friends willing to do anything for 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 yearsEdit

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 lessen Fox's workload. Caitlin was Mayor Winston's campaign manager as he decided to run for Senator, and much conflict occurred between Mike and Caitlin about who was in charge of the mayor. Their relationship was more complex than a simple feud, and hints were dropped that it would become romantic.

In 2000, as his symptoms got more severe, Fox announced he was leaving the show at the end of the season to spend more time with his family and to raise awareness of 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 meeting a young senator named Alex P. Keaton, the character Fox played on Family Ties.[4][5] Executive producer and 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, Charlie Sheen, as new Deputy Mayor Charlie Crawford, joined Caitlin, Paul, Stuart, Carter, and the mayor. The characters of Nikki, James, and Janelle were written out, to be replaced by assistant Angie Ordonez (Lana Parrilla), although she left without explanation for the sixth and final season. With the change of the lead character, also came a change in its production location, from Fox's home in the New York City area to Los Angeles.[6] The show would carry on with Sheen for two seasons.


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 140
Michael Boatman Carter Heywood 145
Barry Bostwick Mayor Randall Winston 144
Connie Britton Nikki Faber 1996–2000 1–4 100
Alexander Chaplin James Hobert 100
Victoria Dillard Janelle Cooper 1996–2000 1 (recurring), 2–4 (starring) 91
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
Taylor Stanley Karen 1996-1997 1 (recurring) 08
Beth Littleford Deirdre West 1998-2000 3, 4 (recurring) 08
Paula Marshall Laurie Parres 1997-1998 2, 3 (recurring) 07
Heidi Klum Heidi Klum 1998-1999 3, 4 (recurring) 07
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 playboy, Flaherty lives in a New York City bachelor pad and is constantly balancing his personal life and his job, trying to maintain a healthy distance between the two. Flaherty leaves the mayor's office at the end of season four, after taking the blame for an unknown mob connection the Mayor had. (Fox left the series due to 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 love 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 Thomas Lassiter, press secretary at City Hall. A known troublemaker and childish member of the group, he is often the victim of practical jokes or mishaps 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 narcissistic and a love-rat, although he is unsuccessful at maintaining a relationship. Early on in the series, he moves into an apartment with Carter, which generates a rivalry as he is a homophobe and is generally uncomfortable around Carter's dog and his uptight 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 towards 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 confident and free-spirited and often dates dangerous men. She develops an on/off relationship with Mike. She leaves after season four for unknown reasons.
  • Alexander Chaplin as James Leonard Hobert III, a speech writer at City Hall. He is shown to be anxious and shy, 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 inept Mayor of New York City. It is stated that he was a state assemblyman sometime prior to his election as mayor. 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. She leaves after season four for unknown reasons.
  • Jennifer Esposito[7] 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 leaves after season three for unknown reasons.
  • Heather Locklear as Caitlin Moore, introduced into the show in season four to lessen Michael J. Fox's screentime 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 playboy and at first struggles to keep his troubled past from getting in the way of his new position. 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.
  • Taylor Stanley as Karen, Mike's assistant in the first season.
  • Paula Marshall as Mike's girlfriend and - briefly - fiancée, Laurie Parres, in Season 2.
  • Beth Littleford as Stuart's girlfriend, Deirdre West, in Seasons 3 & 4.
  • Heidi Klum as herself (or a version of herself) who dates Mike in Season 3 and also appears briefly in Season 4.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankAvg. rating[a]/
Avg. viewers[b]
First airedLast aired
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)4712.0
326September 22, 1998 (1998-09-22)May 25, 1999 (1999-05-25)2813.1
426September 21, 1999 (1999-09-21)May 24, 2000 (2000-05-24)3312.4
523October 18, 2000 (2000-10-18)May 23, 2001 (2001-05-23)5310.8
622September 25, 2001 (2001-09-25)April 30, 2002 (2002-04-30)788.4

Awards and nominationsEdit

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.


Initially distributed by the original Paramount Television, Spin City entered off-network syndication on UPN, Fox and The WB affiliates from fall 2000 until fall 2005 and aired on FX from fall 2005 until fall 2010. As of 2019, Spin City has not aired on cable channels since then. In August 2015, the series started airing on digital multicast television network Laff. In July 2020, every episode was added to Australian streaming service Stan. In February 2021, the entire series was added to Pluto TV (which is owned by Paramount Global, the current entity distributing the series) in the United States.

Home mediaEdit

Shout! Factory and DreamWorks Home Entertainment has released all six seasons of Spin City on DVD in Region 1.[8]

DreamWorks Home Entertainment 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 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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ In households; season 1 only
  2. ^ In millions; seasons 2-5


  1. ^ a b "Carter On Spin City Was A Breakthrough Black Gay Male Character". March 25, 2008. Archived from the original on November 6, 2011.
  2. ^ "The Art of Picking TV Titles: 9 Do's and Don'ts". yahoo.com. March 9, 2012. Spin City, for instance, started as Spin, but ABC couldn't get the rights from the magazine of the same name.
  3. ^ Rice, Lynette (January 18, 2000). "'Spin' Out, The three-time Emmy nominee plans to devote himself to his family". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Goodbye Pt. 2". Spin City. Season 4. Episode 26. May 24, 2000. ABC.
  5. ^ "Poobala.com". Crossover between Family Ties and Spin City. Retrieved March 9, 2008.
  6. ^ Braxton, Greg (September 23, 2001). "Taking One More Spin". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 8, 2022. Eyebrows were also raised when Hollywood "bad boy" Sheen was brought in. But the transition was smoother than anticipated, even with the production moving from New York to Los Angeles.
  7. ^ Diuguid, Carol (September 8, 1997). "Esposito joins cast of 'Spin City'". Variety.
  8. ^ "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 linksEdit