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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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Jeff Daniels Talks About Who His ‘Newsroom’ Character is Based On: ‘Sorry Keith, no one’

Last night HBO held a premiere screening and party for its upcoming series “The Newsroom.” It was a smaller screening than normal for HBO, though the stars still seemed to come out.

TVNewser hears that among the attendees were NBC’s Brian Williams, HBO’s Bryant Gumbel, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, CNN’s Piers Morgan and CBS’ Charlie Rose and Erica Hill.

This morning, ABC’s “Good Morning America” interviewed the series’ star, Jeff Daniels, who plays anchor Will McAvoy. Stephanopoulos asked Daniels whether the series was based on former MSNBC and Current TV host Keith Olbermann:

“No one, sorry Keith, no one. We really decided, let’s create someone completely fictional, and just drop them in the middle of all the guys who exist that we know today,” Daniels said. “Aaron never said ‘by the way, this is based on so and so.’”

“Aaron will tell you that it is a romantic view of what cable news should be, or should strive to be,” Daniels added.

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Meet The Characters On HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’

In a week’s time, HBO will debut “The Newsroom,” the new series from Aaron Sorkin set at a fictional cable news channel called ACN.

Who are the main characters? BO has helpfully put some primers online.

Lead anchor Will McAvoy (played by Jeff Daniels):

McAvoy’s new EP, Mackenzie McHale (played by Emily Mortimer):

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Sorkin On ‘The Newsroom’: ‘None of the characters are inspired by real people, not even a little bit’

TV and film writer Aaron Sorkin appeared at the All Things D conference, where he talked about writing the Steve Jobs biopic, and of course “The Newsroom,” his upcoming cable news-centric show on HBO.

Sorkin revealed some new details about the show, including the influence (or lack thereof) from real cable news channels.

“The show takes place in a fictional newsroom, none of the characters are inspired by real people, not even a little bit,” Sorkin said. “It’s entirely fictional. It isn’t meant to be anything on CNN, MSNBC or Fox, it’s generic cable news.”

He also talked about Dev Patel‘s character “Neal.” Patel plays a young staffer on ACN’s “News Night” who is the digital-savvy one on the team. He is an Internet idealist, and runs the show’s blog. “I have a blog?!?” anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) asks him in one scene.

“We get to see how the people who report the news first get the news themselves, and it is almost always entirely digital,” Sorkin says.

Sorkin also notes that the show will take place in the recent past, kicking off in the pilot episode with “a news event from about two years ago that we are all familiar with.”

Spoiler:

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On The Set of HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’

HBO has released a behind-the-scenes look at “The Newsroom,” the upcoming series from Aaron Sorkin set at a fictional cable news channel.

The “set” is less of a set and more of an actual newsroom, with a real “bullpen,” studio and control room.

“Throw a satellite on top of the roof and we could broadcast,” quips star Jeff Daniels.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus Meets The (Fictional) Press

HBO viewers may have noticed a familiar set on the comedy series “Veep” last night. Vice President Selina Meyer (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) needed to get some good press, so she was booked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to drum up support for immigration reform. Things go horribly awry, but you can watch the show for that.

Instead, you may note that yes, the show was taped on the actual “Meet the Press” set, though moderator David Gregory wasn’t there. He was “sick,” so there is a fake moderator instead.

Related: Frank Rich talks to mediabistroTV about his role in making “Veep”

Oh Look, Another Trailer For HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’

Fresh from HBO, another new trailer for the upcoming Aaron Sorkin series set in the world of cable news, “The Newsroom.”

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Bill Maher Producing New VICE Newsmagazine for HBO, Fareed Zakaria On Board As Consultant

HBO is launching a new TV newsmagazine series with VICE. VICE founder Shane Smith will host the program, which will be executive produced by Smith, comedian Bill Maher and VICE chief creative officer Eddy Moretti. CNN host Fareed Zakaria will serve as a consultant on the series, per his overall agreement with Time Warner signed in 2010. CNN is a sister network to HBO.

Potential subjects for the new series include “Taliban child suicide bombers; North Korean slave labor camps; New York’s underground voodoo heroin clinics; Somalian pirates; and Satanic dentists in the Pacific Northwest,” the network says. Some of the segments will likely be repurposed video content from Vice.com, like this segment on North Korean labor camps:

There is no premiere date or timeslot for the series, which will be called “VICE,” though HBO says it will be televised weekly. That said, TVNewser hears that it will likely debut as a lead-in or lead-out to “Real Time with Bill Maher,” which airs Friday nights on HBO.

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HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ Reveals More In Trailer Two

HBO has released its second trailer for the upcoming Aaron Sorkin series “The Newsroom.” The trailer goes into a bit more detail about some of the story, opening with news anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) speaking to his viewers (on a set reminiscent of “ABC World News”):

“I am apologizing to the American people, for a failure of this news program during the time I have been in charge of it. The reason we failed isn’t a mystery, we took a dive for the ratings. I am quitting this circus and switching teams, I am going with the guys who are getting creamed.”

Jesse Eisenberg To Reprise Mark Zuckerberg Role For Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Series ‘The Newsroom’

Mark Zuckerberg and Jesse Eisenberg on 'SNL'

Actor Jesse Eisenberg, who starred in the hit film “The Social Network,” has been cast as a guest-star in the pilot of Aaron Sorkin‘s upcoming HBO series “The Newsroom.” Sorkin wrote “The Social Network,” which starred Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Reports are vague as to who Eisenberg will play (they only say he will have a small voice-over role) but someone close to the show tells TVNewser that Eisenberg will be reprising his role as Zuckerberg, or as a “Zuckerberg-esque” Internet tycoon if the Powers That Be decide that the Facebook founder isn’t fair game.

Read more about HBO’s “The Newsroom” here and learn about the fictional cable news channel at the heart of the show–Atlantis Cable News–here.

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