Aaron Sorkin talks 'swashbuckling' writing in HBO series 'The Newsroom'
Aaron Sorkin has a knack for portraying the insider perspective in his films and decided to take on the media with his new HBO series "The Newsroom."
"[The series is about] Don Quixote, a workplace family, romantic comedy, being young and alone in the city, forgiveness, the trivialization of the news, false equivalencies, false balance, false neutrality and a team of people who want to do their jobs well," Sorkin said in an interview provided by HBO.
Sorkin earned an Oscar for penning the script for "The Social Network" and multiple Emmy Awards for writing and executive producing "The West Wing." In addition, Sorkin is known for films like "A Few Good Men," "Sports Night" and "Moneyball."
"I enjoy writing about workplaces that I find interesting and workplace families," Sorkin continued. "Mostly I like writing idealistically and romantically and in a swashbuckling way. A newsroom - or at least my version of a newsroom - is a place where all of that could live. Somewhere along the way, journalists went from heroic to derided and I wanted to write about a group of journalists who are doing their best to do the news well - reaching unrealistically high and slipping on a lot of banana peels and doing it all in the name of an honorable mission."
In "Newsroom," Jeff Daniels stars as news anchor Will McAvoy who is usually content to keep his opinions to himself on-camera, but after a spontaneous political outburst, is put on an "enforced vacation." Upon his return from the professional fallout to his evening cable show "News Night," McAvoy finds that most of his staff have jumped ship for another show and he is forced to work with new team members hired during his absence.
McAvoy's new executive producer is MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer), who returned from 26 months in Iraq and Afghanistan. McHale was once romantically involved with McAvoy and knows there is idealism beneath the anchor's veil of apathy and cynicism.
The series also stars Sam Waterston (Law & Order), Dev Patel ("Slumdog Millionaire"), Alison Pill ("In Treatment"), Thomas Sadoski ("Reasons to Be Pretty"), John Gallagher ("Spring Awakening") and Olivia Munn ("I Don't Know How She Does It").
The HBO drama is set in the not-so-distant past, in April 2010 and interweaves real-life news stories with the drama between characters in the newsroom.
Jeff Daniels, who is known for roles in "Terms of Endearment," "Dumb and Dumber" and "The Squid and the Whale," told the Associated Press that Will McAvoy is "the role of a lifetime."
His character's outburst, which occurs during a panel at Northwestern University between two pundits - one conservative and one liberal, McAvoy concludes that America is a mess and the media shares the blame.
"It's NOT the greatest country in the world - not anymore," he blurts out, silencing a shocked crowd. After his rant, McAvoy sums up bitterly, "We lead the world in only three categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending."
Sorkin described his style as "aspirational writing. I'm less interested in the difference between good and bad, than in the difference between good and great. As with Tom Cruise in 'A Few Good Men' or Michael Douglas in 'The American President,'" he goes on, pointing to a pair of his hit films, "I like taking good guys who are getting by with charm and high IQ and who then, for whatever reason, are forced to be better. And be great."
"The Newsroom" will premiere at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday, June 24 on HBO. Watch a trailer for the series below.