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Posts Tagged ‘Emily Mortimer’

How Real is ‘The Newsroom?’ Real TVNewsers Speak Out

No one expects total realism from HBO’s “The Newsroom,” but a scene in Sunday’s Season 2- opener would be virtually impossible in real life, technically speaking, say numerous network professionals.

In the segment, an off-site reporter for cable news network ACN dictates a few words of important corrected information – via cellphone — for his package, which is then instantaneously re-tracked in the control room just in the nick of time on Will McAvoy’s (Jeff Daniels) show.

“Any suggestion you can drop new audio into a package a few seconds before air is definitely unrealistic; make that impossible,” says Candy Crowley, anchor of CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’

“I’ve seen some very exciting things happen in the control room,” says David Westin, ABC News president from 1997 through 2010, “but I never saw anything like that, or even heard about it. I can’t imagine running that kind of risk.”

Ditto, says CNN weekend anchor Don Lemon. “I’ve never seen nor heard of anyone adding audio via cellphone. Some people do narrate on their iPads, but it sounds like crap.”

Rand Morrison, executive producer of  ”CBS News Sunday Morning,” argues that the “huge” difference in audio quality would be “a small price to pay for accuracy.” He describes the ‘Newsroom’ scenario as “far-fetched, but not inconceivable. “

Sue Green of Arizona State’s Cronkite School of Journalism, formerly executive director at New York’s WABC, agrees that it can be done, but it shouldn’t have to be. “If the reporter had done his job correctly in the first place, the fix would not have been needed. That’s what is important here.”

Regardless, Green is a ‘Newsroom’ fan, particularly of executive producer MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer.) “I can relate to having an anchor who doesn’t listen, and the frustrations an EP has to go through in dealing with feelings and egos” of a newsroom.

Speaking of egos, any similarities between McAvoy and the late, great Peter Jennings, David Westin?

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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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