The man behind Sports Night, The West Wing and Studio 60 will once again peer behind-the-scenes of a TV show, this time looking at a fictional news program in the style of Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
Interestingly, it's not the first time Olbermann has inspired a Sorkin show - in an ideal world, Dan Rydell would be making a triumphant return, following the path of his real-life counterpart into political commentary.
I reckon it's an ideal concept for Sorkin. Everybody knows Sorkin loves politics and preachiness, and he struggled to make either fit in his critically-mauled S60. To be honest, I'm surprised he didn't do this show sooner.
This week, a little information leaked out about the pilot, with The Daily getting their hands on the script:
With so many TV shows from The Good Wife to 30 Rock taking recent shots at Aaron Sorkin, we almost forgot about Sorkin's own TV-tackling show, an HBO pilot he wrote about the Keith Olbermann–like host of a cable news channel.
The Daily got its hands on the still-untitled script, which Sorkin researched by spending time with Olbermann before the newsman ditched MSNBC for Current; here, the Olbermann stand-in is named "Will McAllister," and he's a network-taunting liberal who likes the ladies.
In fact, the show opens with McAllister returning from a sexy St. Lucia vacation with ESPN's Erin Andrews, only to find — in a twist that will surprise no one who has watched an Aaron Sorkin show before — that his show's new executive producer is his former love Mackensie McHale. (Apparently, this pilot will have more grunted "Macs" and "Mcs" than a dinner rush at McDonald's.
And Sorkin has also recently spoken about his hopes for the show:
"It'll be a new series for HBO that will take place behind the scenes — for a change — at a nightly cable news show, where they have made a decision to try to do the news well."
"I'm loving the idea of coming back to television and taking the same combination of idealism and romanticism and realism that made government sexy on The West Wing and seeing if we can't do the same with the news and journalism, which are held in at least as much contempt."
“It'll be aspirational. It'll be wish fulfillment. But they're going to lose as much as they're going to win. In other words, it's not going to be a fantasy. They're going to be trying to do well in a context where it's very difficult to do well when there are commercial concerns and political concerns and corporate concerns."
Hopefully S60 has taught Sorkin that he needs help when creating these shows, and that he is, in fact, fallible. Being on HBO should be an interesting change, giving him the opportunity to cut loose a little. And with 12 or 13 episode seasons there is far less chance of burnout, and it means he can still carry on with his film career, which is going from strength to strength.
Apparently they're currently casting - as with all his projects, I'm excited to see who lands the main roles. Will any of his former stars join the fray? Nobody who is currently out of work really jumps out as a potential Will McAllister - Rob Lowe would have been a strong choice, I think, but he's busy on Parks and Recreation. Like I said earlier, Josh Charles returning as Dan Rydell would just be too good to be true. It wouldn't even have to feature any of the other Sports Night cast, just make vague allusions to his past as the host of the number four sports show in the country.
One more thing - the title is a bit weak. Hope it's not here to stay, but I thought the same about Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and that remained. How about we bring things full circle and call it What Kind of Day Has it Been? Going by past form, the final title will be whatever the show-within-the-show is called.