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HBO

‘The Newsroom,’ ‘Game Change’ Lock Up Golden Globe Nominations

The reviews for HBO’s cable news drama “The Newsroom” may not have been glowing, but they apparently didn’t matter. The program was quickly renewed for a second season by HBO and now it has picked up two Golden Globe nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

“The Newsroom” is nominated for “Best Television Series-Drama,” while star Jeff Daniels is nominated for his performance as cantankerous cable news anchor Will McAvoy.

Elsewhere, the HBO movie “Game Change” picked up five nominations, including “Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made For Television” and a nomination for Julianne Moore‘s portrayal of Fox News contributor and former VP nominee Sarah Palin. Woody Harrelson, Sarah Paulson and Ed Harris also received nominations for their roles.

HBO has already optioned the follow-up to Game Change as a movie, The book will be released late next year.

You can read the full list of nominees here.

HBO Options ‘Game Change’ Sequel

The authors of the book Game Change are working on a follow-up to their 2010 best-seller called Double Down: Game Change 2012. HBO, which aired a made-for-TV movie based on the first book, has already optioned the sequel for a movie.

John Heileman and Mark Halperin will release Double Down: Game Change 2012 in Fall 2013. It will, not surprisingly, focus on the 2012 Presidential campaign between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

The original Game Change debuted on bookshelves in January, 2010, and debuted on HBO in March of this year. The movie became famous for Julianne Moore‘s portrayal of Sarah Palin as much as anything else, and garnered a more-than respectable 2.1 million live viewers.

Fake Anchor Jeff Daniels Makes the Rounds in Real Newsrooms

Norah O'Donnell takes a page from episode one of HBO's "The Newsroom" after Jeff Daniels appeared on "CBS This Morning"

Actor Jeff Daniels was on “CBS This Morning” earlier today and on MSNBC’s “Hardball” this evening. Daniels, who plays Will McAvoy on HBO’s “The Newsroom” told Chris Matthews, “It’s not like we’re out trying to whitewash all of cable news. We’re trying to shine a light on the people really trying to tell the truth and get out the truth every day.”

Matthews observes that what happens on the HBO show is not far from the process of putting his show together:

“What’s really real about it — and I’ve been talking to our producers about it — is that it’s really like that. What’s gone on all day, between you and your EP, where you have to work together, there’s a little conflict there sometimes. Working together with another ego, you and the EP. And with the other producers doing their thing. The conflicts, the arguments, the great synergy is going on all day.”

Matthews also played a clip that included his son. “Who’s that really good looking young guy playing Martin?,” asked Matthews. “Some kid we hired off the the street,” Daniels shot back.

On CBS, Daniels talked about why he almost gave up acting. Clip after the jump…

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HBO Kills Fox News Project

Well that was fast.

Not even a day after Nikke Finke at Deadline Hollywood reported that HBO had acquired the rights to a movie about Fox News and CEO Roger Ailes (and that MSNBCers Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were on board as producers if it went forward), Finke now adds that HBO has killed the project.

Today I’ve received this email from HBO Films President Len Amato: “We recently decided not to pursue the Ailes project. It had become clear to us before even receiving a script that due to our company’s CNN affiliation the film could never be seen as objective.” Interesting, because today I’ve learned that none of the dealmakers have yet been informed by HBO that the project isn’t going forward.

Finke suggests that by reporting on it so early in the process, she may have inadvertently killed the project. Oops.

Deadline: HBO Acquires Rights to Fox News Flick

Deadline Hollywood’s Nikke Finke reports that HBO has acquired the TV movie rights to Gabriel Sherman‘s upcoming book about Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, and the birth of Fox News Channel. Even crazier: among the producers of the (potential) project are MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

So, if you are keeping track: HBO–sister network to CNN–has acquired the rights to a movie about Fox News, with two MSNBC hosts producing.

To be clear: Sherman’s book isn’t even finished yet, so this movie might never get made, but HBO does love to pick up book rights. Earlier this year it debuted “Game Change,” based on the book of the same name, and it acquired the rights to Bill Carter‘s The Late Shift back in the early 90′s, changing the TV movie game.

Writes Finke:
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HBO Renews ‘The Newsroom’

HBO has renewed “The Newsroom” for a second season after only two episodes, the premium cable channel says.

The series, from creator Aaron Sorkin, follows cable news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and his team at Atlantis Cable News. It debuted June 24 to 2.1 million viewers, a solid, if unspectacular start for the series. That said, other HBO shows, such as “Game of Thrones,” launched with similar ratings, and have gone on to become bona fide hits.

HBO is betting that the series continues to pick up viewers over the course of the season. The channel also announced a sixth-season pickup for “True Blood.”

Critics have largely panned the series, though there have been notable exceptions, such as former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, who wrote favorably about the series on Gawker. HBO has slated a panel discussion featuring Sorkin, Daniels and other members of “The Newsroom” cast at the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in August, which should make for an interesting conversation.

Watch The Entire First Episode of HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ Here, No Subscription Required

Were you not one of the 2.1 million people that watched the new Aaron Sorkin series “The Newsroom” on HBO last night? Then here is a friendly FYI from TVNewser: HBO has posted the entire first episode of the series online, for free, even if you aren’t an HBO sub. You can watch it on YouTube here, but we have helpfully embedded it below.

HBO also posted the first episodes of “Girls” and “Veep” online the day after they debuted. The goal is to get you hooked, and convert you to a paying subscriber. What do you think did the pilot make you buy HBO? let us know in the comments.

‘The Newsroom’ Debuts To 2.1 Million Viewers

Sunday night’s debut episode of “The Newsroom” on HBO drew 2.1 million viewers at 10 PM. That is a mixed bag ratings-wise for the pay cable network.

The ratings place it just below “Game of Thrones,” which drew 2.2 million viewers in its premiere, though it is far below “Boardwalk Empire” which drew 4.8 million. “Girls,” the HBO comedy that was quickly picked up for a second season after its debut earlier this year, drew 1.1 million viewers in its premiere.

Hour-long dramas like “The Newsroom” are significantly more expensive to produce than half-hour comedies, so the numbers don’t guarantee a second season pickup from HBO. An additional 600,000 viewers watched the encore presentation later in the evening.

The Newsroom is from Aaron Sorkin, the creator of “Sports Night” and “The West Wing,” among other TV series. It stars Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy, the anchor of “News Night” at Atlantis Cable News, who has an epiphany and decides to change how he and the network deliver news.

Given the pedigree of Sorkin, Daniels and the rest of the cast, as well as HBO’s very-solid track record when it comes to developing high-quality programming, expectations were high for the program. So far, it looks like there is still work that needs to be done, though the opening numbers are far from a flop.

As we wrote about last week, critical reception was mixed, but skewed towards negative.

Critics Not Too Keen On HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’

“The Newsroom” debuts Sunday evening on HBO, and reviews are in for the latest TV series from Aaron Sorkin (Read TVNewser columnist Gail Shister‘s review here). What do the other critics say?

ABC’s Jake Tapper, for The New Republic:

I wanted this show to be great. When asked to participate in a conference call, gratis, where I shared some of my reporting experiences with the writers, I eagerly did so. But I won’t further bury the lede: “The Newsroom,” which debuts June 24 on HBO, is sadly disappointing. There’s much to criticize in the media—and TV news in particular. But though “The Newsroom” intends to lecture its viewers on the higher virtues of capital-J journalism, Professor Sorkin soon reveals he isn’t much of an expert on the subject.

Alessandra Stanley, for the New York Times:

Yet oddly enough “The Newsroom” suffers from the same flaw that it decries on real cable shows on MSNBC or Fox News. Cable television would be a lot better if anchors pontificated less and went back to reporting. “The Newsroom” would be a lot better if the main characters preached less and went back to reporting.

Hank Stuever, for The Washington Post:

The word pile that once seemed so melodious in Sorkin’s other projects — especially that millennial anti-anxiety medication known as the “The West Wing” — now has the effect of tinnitus. The men talk like Sorkin writes; the women talk that way, too; the 28-year-olds talk like that, as do the 41-year-olds, as do the cast’s septuagenarians, who include Sam Waterston as the head of the network news division and, later on, Jane Fonda as the network owner who puts the arch in matriarch. (In other words, Jane Fonda as Ted Turner.)

Emily Nussbaum, for The New Yorker:
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Will a TV Show About the News be More Compelling Than the Real Thing?

I admire Aaron Sorkin, but he gives me a headache. By the time his characters finish a monologue, I’m ready for a nap.

Sorkin’s latest work, “The Newsroom,” which debuts Sunday on HBO, is no exception. In the pilot’s opening scene, set at a J-school panel, cable newsman Will McAvoy delivers a breathless tirade that, while eloquent, lasts longer than most network sitcoms.

In an homage to Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network,” McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, explodes when the moderator goads him into answering a student question about why America is the greatest country on earth. It’s not, he says, and here’s why.

Citing reams of statistics that someone in his line of work could not possibly know – another Sorkin trademark — McAvoy ends on a hopeful note. The speech will change the direction of his career from a bland ‘Jay Leno’ to a take-no-prisoners anchor of the Old School, like Murrow, Cronkite and Brinkley.

Images of those very men are in “Newsroom’s” opening montage, along with those of Dan Rather and legendary producer Don Hewitt. They are Sorkin’s heroes, he says. To that end, the underlying message of “Newsroom” is that it’s not too late to create a civil, intelligent newscast they would have been proud of.

News junkies will not be able to resist this show, despite the fact that some of the plotlines are ridiculous and that Sorkin writes like he’s getting paid by the word. Programs about the TV news business are rare. The last good one, Sorkin’s “Sports Night,” ended 12 years ago.

Sorkin reportedly based “Sports Night” on Keith Olbermann, but he’s denied that Olbermann was his muse for McAvoy.

Please. McAvoy is wicked smart, totally self-involved, highly temperamental and loathed by his staff. “I’m not the easiest guy to work for,” he tells his boss, Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), news division president at fictional network ACN. Skinner has a short fuse and drinks a lot.

It pains me to say this, but Waterston, one of my favorite actors, is a tad old for the role. He punches out his lines like every breath will be his last. Daniels, on the other hand, is in his element,

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