Monday, June 25, 2012



It is just a bit ironic that THE NEWSROOM, a terrific and inspiring new show by Aaron Sorkin about creating newscasts on television that broadcast important news, ran until 11:15, preventing the audience from watching the actual 11:00 news, which - sadly - rarely carries more than about 2-5 minutes of important national and international news, and usually sandwiches that in after local tragedies, and it's done by a quarter after.

A valuable nightly news show is not just getting scoops -- which is the subject of the premiere -- like getting the first news out about the Gulf oil spill. If THE NEWSROOM can define what it means to produce a "valuable" nightly news show night after night, and make it inspiring and seem like fun! it will be doing something important. (For one thing it may inspire fine future newscasters! And, perhaps, even present newscasters!)

But quality is not the opposite of popular; and a high quality show that no-one sees may be impact-free.

The greatest impediment to valuable news, it seems to me, is the promulgation of two sides to an issue on which only one side is speaking the truth and the other side is not, and failing to distinguish between the two.  In the worlds of science and law ("the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" is not a bad standard for nightly news shows) there are ways to help make statements conform to the facts. News reports must find a way to do the same, not give equal weight to every argument.

A valuable, quality newscast it seems to me must be diligent in finding the facts, accurate in reporting them, distinguish between serious arguments and simple evasions, cover many important subjects while prioritizing the time spent on each, keep finding new information while not forgetting the basics, be relentless in questioning sources, and realize that the follow-up can be more important than the initial scoop. At the same time the stories should be clear and interesting!

What makes an Aaron Sorkin show interesting is the importance of his subjects, the energy and passion with which he presents them, plus his fine language, and also the skill with which it is directed and acted. Everyone (almost) on the pilot episode was terrific.  Jeff Daniels played the lead character, the news anchor star.  Sam Waterston played the head of news.  Alison Pill was a beautiful and delightful intern who was made an assistant, then made associate producer -- a fast riser! Emily Mortimer did a great job as the new Executive Producer, but her English accent, and English nationality give her American patriotism speeches a strange discordance. (Emily was born in England but holds dual UK and US citizenship.  Many - not all - shades of diversity exist in the cast, and it would -- to me at least -- "feel better" if Emily's character acknowledged her English roots together with some kind of American -- that of course means US -- integration.)

The premiere episode was directed by Greg Mottola.

The Cast:

Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy – anchor of the News Night program on ACN.
Emily Mortimer as Mackenzie MacHale – News Night's new executive producer.
Alison Pill as Maggie Jordan – promoted to associate producer of News Night.
Dev Patel as Neal Sampat – writer of Will's blog and news scanner of the Internet
John Gallagher, Jr. as Jim Harper – a producer who works with MacHale
Thomas Sadoski as Don Keefer – News Night's former executive producer
Sam Waterston as Charlie Skinner – in charge of the News at ACN

Olivia Munn and Jane Fonda will join the cast in future episodes.



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