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The Newsroom (US): Howard Beale, Walking-in-Circles Edition


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#1

HungryHippo2004

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Posted Feb 20, 2011 @ 12:10 PM

After a bit of a mauling last time round, Aaron Sorkin is coming back to TV - and this time it's on HBO.

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.

#2

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Posted Feb 20, 2011 @ 12:38 PM

From what I can find, it's just a pilot HBO ordered. They haven't actually ordered a season?

HBO has a lot of shows and promoting new ones (along with miniseries and movies).

#3

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Posted Feb 20, 2011 @ 1:04 PM

Yeah, it's just a pilot order so far. A show may or may not materialize, and if it does, speculation is that it won't be until next year. So this one's a long way off, if it even happens. (In fact, I just dug up an article from 2.5 years ago about Sorkin meeting with HBO, so it might not even happen that fast. Funnily, one of the commenters suggested a show going behind the scenes of a news show.)

Successes of The Social Network aside, I've been pretty down on Sorkin after how offensively condescending I found Studio 60 to be. (Is that right, Aaron Sorkin? A midwestern couple in their 50's, whose son is a comedian, are such uninformed, backwater hicks that they've never in their lives heard of "Who's on First?" Really? That one still bugs.) The concept of this show does not fill me with confidence that it won't be just another puffed up platform for Sorkin to spew his personal politics at the world, while speaking to us as if we're dim. But who knows? Maybe he learned from Studio 60 and will create something better this time around. It is to his credit that in the piece I linked to above, he seems to take responsibility for the mistakes he made with it, but if this show happens, I'd be going into it very tentatively.

#4

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Posted Mar 21, 2011 @ 7:06 PM

According to Deadline, Jeff Daniels is in talks to take the lead role.

#5

Colonel Green

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Posted Jul 3, 2011 @ 9:11 AM

The cast for the show has filled out considerably, now including Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterson, Alison Pill, Olivia Munn, and Dev Patel.

#6

vb68

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Posted Jul 14, 2011 @ 1:50 AM

Man, I'm really, really looking forward to this one.

#7

InvertedCommas

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Posted Jul 14, 2011 @ 2:04 AM

Yeah, despite myself, I'm super excited about this. I loved The West Wing and I love TV news - there are so many ways this could go wrong, but if it doesn't, it could be amazing.

#8

InvertedCommas

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Posted Sep 8, 2011 @ 1:45 PM

Hope it's OK to double post a few months later - the show just got a series order from HBO.

#9

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Posted Sep 8, 2011 @ 3:38 PM

Sam Waterston is in this?! That's it, I have to watch now.

I'm kind of mixed on Sorkin; loved his movies like The Social Network and A Few Good Men, but I despised Studio 60 with a passion, so I hope this is better (yes, I'm one of the few who hasn't seen The West Wing.) Casting looks great though; love Waterston, Dev Patel, Emily Mortimer, Allison Pill, and Jeff Daniels. Only one I'm not wild about is the overrated Olivia Munn, but maybe she'll be tolerable here.

#10

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Posted Sep 8, 2011 @ 5:14 PM

Hopefully Studio 60 taught Sorkin a thing or two. His ego was sky high after the success of TWW, but the failure of Studio 60 will have brought him back to earth (though the subsequent Oscar win might have inflated it once more).

Pickup is said to be 10 episodes, but not confirmed. And the title is changing.

#11

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Posted Sep 8, 2011 @ 5:20 PM

The cast for the show has filled out considerably, now including Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterson, Alison Pill, Olivia Munn, and Dev Patel.

I am not a big fan of Olivia Munn, but I do like everyone else, especially Dev Patel. Also, I am a big John Gallagher Jr. fan (For broadway fans he played original Mortiz in Spring Awakening and original Johnny in American Idiot), so I do know he has a role in the series. Not sure if it is a regular character or a one time thing. I just hope it is more Sports Night/TWW then Studio 60.

#12

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Posted Sep 8, 2011 @ 6:44 PM

I am not a big fan of Olivia Munn, but I do like everyone else, especially Dev Patel. Also, I am a big John Gallagher Jr. fan (For broadway fans he played original Mortiz in Spring Awakening and original Johnny in American Idiot), so I do know he has a role in the series. Not sure if it is a regular character or a one time thing. I just hope it is more Sports Night/TWW then Studio 60.


Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer have the biggest roles, closely followed by John Gallagher Jr's character. He's the young, idealistic journalist who Mortimer brings with her when she's appointed EP of the show.

And Olivia Munn's character, in the pilot at least, isn't very big. Just the one scene, IIRC. Her link is to John Gallagher Jr's character, Jim Harper. Don't know how she'll be integrated as it goes on.

Edited by HungryHippo2004, Sep 8, 2011 @ 6:47 PM.


#13

Misslindsey

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Posted Sep 8, 2011 @ 9:52 PM

Thanks HungryHippo2004 for the information! I was already going to tune in, because I like Aaron Sorkin, but I am glad to see my John Gallagher Jr in more things outside of the stage.

#14

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Posted Sep 9, 2011 @ 8:58 AM

I'm very eager to see this. Sorkin is far more hit than miss with me, and it really is a solid cast. I'm thrilled about John Gallagher, Jr - really seeing anyone from "Spring Awakening" get a chance in front of a larger audience

#15

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Posted Sep 9, 2011 @ 9:19 AM

I'm definitely excited for this show. As an aspiring screenwriter myself, Aaron Sorkin is a huge inspiration of mine. Anything he's involved in is must-see for me. I don't understand the inclusion of Olivia Munn. Why do people continue to cast her in things? But from the sounds of it, her role doesn't appear to be that big, so.

#16

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Posted Sep 9, 2011 @ 1:40 PM

I will definitely be watching this show, I loved, loved TWW, the loss of Sorkin after Season 4 was so apparent, but of course I watched it till the bitter end, LOL

But I hated Studio 60, even though it starred my beloved Bradley Whitford. He and Matt Perry were wonderful, but the rest of the cast was awful, especially the 2 female leads. I stopped watching when BW became a stalker, I could not stomach it after that.

I have high hopes for Aaron, he has proven to be a great writer at times, and being on HBO with only a few shows a season will hopefully bring out the best stories he can give us.

#17

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Posted Sep 9, 2011 @ 2:28 PM

I will definitely be watching (well, when it comes on DVD since I don't have HBO). I am a huge Sorkin tv fan ...Sports Night, WW, even Studio 60 (apparently I stand alone on that one!). Plus I just fininshed Season 2 of In Treament and am now a huge Allison Pill fan.

#18

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Posted Sep 9, 2011 @ 9:38 PM

I'll definitely be watching as well. I'm another huge TWW fan, and this is on my favorite channel. I think Sorkin and HBO will be a great mix together. And Jeff Daniels seems like spot-on casting.

#19

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Posted Sep 9, 2011 @ 10:11 PM

Casting won't be complete until I hear Allison Janney has a role.

#20

vb68

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Posted Sep 9, 2011 @ 10:14 PM

I guess after Studio 60, it's best not to ask Bradley Whitford.

#21

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Posted Sep 9, 2011 @ 10:40 PM

Okay, I hate to be that person, but who is Olivia Munn? I don't speak for the whole of the American public, of course, but I don't think I've ever heard of her, even thought I'm very familiar with the rest of the cast.

I know, I should just Google her. But she seems to have people less-than-excited about her part in the show, so I'm interested in hearing what other people say about her work.

#22

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Posted Sep 9, 2011 @ 11:13 PM

Redtracer - Olivia Munn. Her big thing was Attack of the Show, though she's also occasionally been a correspondent on The Daily Show, and she had a bit part in Iron Man 2.

I will definitely have to get HBO when this comes out. In retrospect, one of the main reasons why Studio 60 didn't work is pop culture is not high on the list of Sorkin's strengths, which is a problem when you're doing a show about a show that depends on being smart, or at least funny, about pop culture. However, politics and the media are definitely in Sorkin's wheelhouse, so I am confident about this working, especially since it's on HBO.

#23

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Posted Sep 10, 2011 @ 12:08 AM

I think Sorkin is trying for a "middle ground" between The West Wing and Studio 60. It could work. There was a series in 2001 called "The Beast" about a cable news series that starred Frank Langella and Elizabeth Mitchell, but it was a short-lived summer series. It is hard to say how well a TV show about a TV show, even on HBO. (And 30 Rock doesn't count, since that show really isn't about the show the characters work on.)

#24

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Posted Sep 10, 2011 @ 9:56 AM

Okay, I hate to be that person, but who is Olivia Munn? I don't speak for the whole of the American public, of course, but I don't think I've ever heard of her, even thought I'm very familiar with the rest of the cast.


I don't know a lot about her either. At least not enough to have a strong opinion on her either way.

#25

HungryHippo2004

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Posted Nov 23, 2011 @ 6:30 AM

Title of the show has apparently changed to The Newsroom.

#26

Jaman

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Posted Nov 23, 2011 @ 7:30 AM

Huh. I didn't think there could be something I like less than MatSD, but The Newsroom does it. It's just so...plain. It's 9:30pm for me so the brain is a little gone, but give me 30 minutes and I'm pretty sure I could come up with three or four better titles.

#27

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Posted Nov 23, 2011 @ 8:56 AM

Plus, it was also the name of a Canadian TV show from about 15 years ago.

#28

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Posted May 23, 2012 @ 10:17 AM

I didn't find a thread for this on a cursory search, so here we go...The Newsroom (not to be confused with the CBC comedy of the same name...or maybe they just don't want us thinking about the possible similarities) is an HBO series created and written by Aaron Sorkin that centers on a fictional nightly cable news show. Or, as HBO's website states,

Focusing on a network anchor (played by Jeff Daniels), his new executive producer (Emily Mortimer), the newsroom staff (John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Olivia Munn, Dev Patel) and their boss (Sam Waterston), the series tracks their quixotic mission to do the news well in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles-not to mention their own personal entanglements.


The first and second promotional trailers for the show are out in the wild, and rather different in tone; there's a third on HBO's website which straddles the fence. I'm at least curious about the show, Daniels and Waterston--and Jane Fonda, who has a recurring role--aside, though I can't help the mental comparisons to both the mighty Network (thanks to the first trailer) and Murphy Brown (the second trailer). At the very least it should be quite quotable...

#29

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Posted May 23, 2012 @ 10:32 AM

I love Aaron Sorkin, even Studio 60. I can't wait to see this new show and I'm curious about Sorkin's transition to HBO.

#30

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Posted May 23, 2012 @ 11:09 AM

I'm really hoping this is closer to Sports Night than Studio 60, but it will be a joy to hear the rhythms of Aaron Sorkin's dialogue again.