In one corner, we have cranky reporters, who have been embedded in lodgings around Beverly Hills for the past two weeks for the Television Critics Association press tour. In the other, Aaron Sorkin and his show for HBO, The Newsroom, which is bringing in good ratings, but terrible reviews. The two met yesterday for what should have been an awkward, Michael Patrick King-style bloodbath, but instead, it was a stalemate, with critics calling Sorkin out on his sh*t and Sorkin refusing to admit that The Newsroom is anything but amazing.
On bad reviews:
“For sure we all know that there were critics who did not enjoy watching the first 4 episodes — and there were critics that did. Anytime that people are talking this much about a television show, it’s good for television…good for people who watch television and good for people who work in television.” (Via)
On reportedly sh*tchanning all the writers, except his ex-girlfriend:
“A couple of weeks ago, an unsourced and untrue story appeared on the Internet. The writing staff was not fired. I love the writing staff. I thought we did great this year, and it’s a fantastic group of men and women to come to work with. But at the end of each season, you get together with the producers and the department heads and you talk about ways that you can get better. So, a couple of staffing changes were made — including promoting two of our writers’ assistants.” (Via)
Sorkin also mentioned that, contrary to rumors, he never dated staff writer Corinne Kingsbury, who not only briefly appeared in episode five as a stripper, but also, as commenter Alvis pointed out, played the “brunette topless wrestling chick from Old School.” RANGE.
On new consultants:
Newsroom‘s second season will include a vast range of behind-the-scenes “paid consultants” who will contribute to the series, as opposed to the handful of sources Sorkin utilized during the series’ freshman run. (Via)
On working in the past:
Sorkin revealed that the series will “always be about 9-12 months behind” real-life current events addressed on the show-within-a-show. (Via)
This has been one of my biggest gripes about The Newsroom so far, and it looks like I’ll be bitching about it for (gulp) seasons to come. Setting the show nine months in the past is cheap in two ways: 1) It takes advantage of a viewer’s emotional attachment to a real-life tragedy, like Gabrielle Giffords being shot, and reduces it to a pile of Coldplay-assisted mush; and 2) Sorkin can always make Atlantic Cable News seem perfect. Sure, all the OTHER networks immediately pronounced Giffords dead, but NOT NEWS NIGHT. Something something Cronkite!
On Newsroom‘s problems writing for female characters:
Sorkin says he “completely respects” the opinion that the show’s women are portrayed in a less flattering light than its male characters, “but I 100 percent disagree with it. I think the female characters on the show are every bit the equals of the men…Caring about other people more than themselves, [being] thoughtful, serious, plainly smart, being great team players — those to me are what define the characters, and by the way, I’d say the same thing for the actresses who play them. Once you have that down, you can have them slip on as many banana peels as you want. That’s just comedy.” (Via)
He’s so full of himself here. To put things in perspective: Olivia Munn is the most fully formed female character on The Newsroom, and during a dramatic scene in last week’s episode, she freaked about her weight. What else? Emily Mortimer’s MacKenzie McHale constantly has gum stuck in her hair and was defended by Sorkin at the panel because of the “loyalty” she showed by staying with Will McAvoy, a man, while Alison Pill’s Maggie signed a condolence card “I’m sorry about your loss, LOL” because she thought “LOL” stood for “Lots of Love” and has a lady friend who barges in the newsroom and begins screaming about Valentine’s Day. Yeesh.
Todd VanDerWerff discusses this over at the A.V. Club, but I think what bugs so many people about The Newsroom — other than what’s listed above and the middle age white guy bloviating that makes you want to scream — is that it doesn’t feel like an HBO show. If it was on USA or TNT, we’d expect and accept any number of problems, but because it airs on Sunday nights on HBO, the same night and channel as The Sopranos and The Wire, we want it to be amazing, to feel like we’re watching something special. Instead, we’ve got Dev Patel raving about Bigfoot. Sorkin does one have strong defender, though:
Why, Kristen? Why?