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Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Sorkin’

The Creator of Canada’s ‘The Newsroom’ Talks About A Certain HBO Program Of The Same Name

Are you a fan of “The Newsroom”? No, not the HBO show from Aaron Sorkin. I’m talking about the original program, the dark comedy that aired on Canada’s CBC in the late 90′s and early 2000′s.

The Daily Beast’s Soraya Roberts remembered the show, and reached out to its creator, Ken Finkleman, to get his take on the HBO program of the same name. As we noted last year, HBO applied for a trademark on “The Newsroom” in the U.S. Finkleman tells Roberts that he was approached earlier this year by HBO lawyers.

“I said, ‘My show is finished, I’m not going to do it again. If you guys want to do a show called The Newsroom, in terms of creative people being supportive of each other, absolutely go ahead and use that name. Because if the shoe was on the other foot and I called you, I would want you to give it up as well,’” Finkleman says.

When asked if he gave his blessing for HBO to use their title, Meyboom, who co-owns the rights to Seasons 2 and 3 of The Newsroom with Finkleman (CBC owns Season 1), told the Beast via phone: “I don’t want to comment about that.”

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.

Aaron Sorkin: ‘News shows should be exempt from having to deliver ratings’

HBO’s “The Newsroom” creator Aaron Sorkin was on “CBS This Morning” this morning, and he was asked by co-anchors Charlie Rose and Gayle King for his thoughts on the state of TV news.

“News shows should be exempt from having to deliver ratings,” Sorkin said, adding “In the old days there was a firewall between the entertainment division and the news division.”

He was also asked about David Carr‘s column, using “The Newsroom” as a guide to give advice to CNN. “I think David Carr’s piece won me a lot of friends at CNN,” Sorkin said sarcastically.

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‘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.

CNN Can Find a Roadmap in … ‘The Newsroom’ ?

Did you watch “The Newsroom” last night? If so, did you find yourself wondering, “I wish cable news was more like that!”

The NYTimes’ David Carr says the CNN newsroom is the closest thing we have to “The Newsroom,” but adds, “CNN has stuck with, well, a version of the news, and gotten clobbered in the process.”

“The Newsroom’s” brain, Aaron Sorkin tells Carr, “[I]f I were the president of CNN I would put the smartest news people I know in a room and ask, ‘What would a utopian news show look like?’ and then I’d ask ‘What’s stopping us from doing that?’”

Perhaps they have. But that doesn’t mean people will watch. Carr points out why:

Much of the audience expects to be infotained when they turn on the news, so every wiggle and wobble of the Tot Mom becomes freighted with meaning. But there is also a sizable audience that tunes in for updates on actual news and sees talking heads arguing over Bristol Palin as if she were a head of state, and drug-fueled cannibalism discussed as a growing trend. There are others like me, fans of news, who feel less enlightened than implicated when we do tune in.

Carr’s solution:

Leave the Tot Mom to others and stick to coming up with a well-cooked, nutritious news diet. Why not ride through the news cycle with some dignity and feed a loyal, reliable audience, standing by for when the world threatens to blow apart and ratings skyrocket?

The true test of all this may whether people tune in to “The Newsroom.” If viewers have little interest in a “utopian” fake newsroom, why would they watch the real thing?

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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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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The Real News Ties to a Fictional Cable Newsroom

The New York TimesDavid Itzkoff caught up with Aaron Sorkin ahead of the June 24 premiere of “The Newsroom” on HBO. As we’ve been documenting here over the last several months, Sorkin has drawn from real cable news channels — specifically MSNBC — to craft his drama. Itzkoff writes Sorkin, “was embedded at MSNBC’s incarnation of ‘Countdown With Keith Olbermann‘ during the BP oil spill in 2010…”

Mr. Olbermann, a longtime friend of Mr. Sorkin’s, said there were other parallels between his MSNBC tenure and events in the “Newsroom” pilot, as when [anchor Will] McAvoy [played by Jeff Daniels, right] returns from hiatus to discover that his backup host has been given his own show. (Mr. Olbermann declined to provide further details, but his onetime backup host Lawrence O’Donnell was given his own MSNBC show in September 2010.) Mr. Sorkin also hired Margaret Judson, an assistant of Mr. Olbermann’s, to act on “The Newsroom.”

Itzkoff also reveals Thomas Matthews, son of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews plays a newsroom staffer on “The Newsroom.”

Much more in Itzkoff’s piece, set to run in Sunday’s paper. Go here to read through.

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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