Aaron Sorkin Previews The Next Season of ‘The Newsroom’

Whether you found Aaron Sorkin’s cable news drama thoroughly engrossing and a razor-sharp commentary on the world of broadcast media and The Way We Live Now and The Way It Should Be or a problematic, preachy mess where Will McAvoy’s soapbox-y, Howard Beale-wannabe shtick made you want to dropkick your viewing device into oblivion, or you just didn’t care one way or the other, it’s coming back for a second season. And this time, as explained in a new teaser clip for The Newsroom featuring behind-the-scenes footage and a conversation with showrunner Sorkin, things will be a little bit different.

Many people were drawn into the first season of the show with the intriguing format, where each episode was centered on fictional cable news network CAN’s coverage of actual, real news events and the issues thereof. The second season will not be so fragmented, Sorkin says. Instead of focusing on a singular event per episode, the whole team will be embroiled in one unified conflict throughout, as ACN staff members testify in a wrongful termination suit relating to a controversial story. But the show won’t be all that: one staff member goes out in the field to cover the Romney campaign, because it wouldn’t be The Newsroom without a chance for some fiery election-related monologues, and Neal (Dev Patel) gets into the Occupy movement.

Also, there will be sexual tension, relationships will begin and end, and, as Sorkin explains, things will not get better for Maggie (Allison Pill), which is a bummer. Season Two of The Newsroom will premiere on HBO on July 14th, but in the meantime, you can watch this teaser feature below.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s WikiLeaks Movie is Coming to Theaters This Fall

Benedict Cumberbatch can do no wrong. The strangely beautiful and fiercely talent Englishman first made us fall into love with him in the BBC version of Sherlock last year, and in the coming months we’ll see his villainous turn in Star Trek. But it’s DreamWorks that’s currently prepping their WikiLeaks movie with Breaking Dawn director Bill Condon leading the picture. Now titled The Fifth Estate the film is currently in production with Cumberbatch starring as Julian Assange and Daniel Bruhl as WikiLeaks co-founder Daniel Domscheit-Berg. The Fifth Estate, based on the books Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website and WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy with a script from Josh Singer of The West Wing, looks to be shaping up to Sorkin-esque proportions.

With shooting still underway, DreamWorks has already set a release date for the project—a cozy November 15th premiere, hitting the prime award season sweet spot. The cast will be rounded out with the great Peter Capaldi and the stately Dan Stevens, as well as Anthony Mackie, Alicia Vikander, and Laura Linney. With a cast like this, it’s difficult to go wrong—but again, it’s difficult to judge how this will all pan out from the man who brought us the final saga of Bella and Edward. At least we get a bleach-blonde Benedict, right?

Photo via Indiewire

Political Movie Not About Politics

Now that I’ve seen the capitalist critiques and murderous slo-mo ballets of Killing Them Softly, last on the cinematic agenda between now and Django Unchained would be Zero Dark Thirty, which chronicles the global manhunt for Osama bin Laden in what we all hope to be chilling detail. But don’t let that description confuse you: allegedly, the script has no agenda at all!

Okay, I see where director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal are coming from when they say things like: “This is a pretty naturally dramatic and exciting story. You don’t really have to put too much topspin on the ball.” Because there’s nothing worse than an on-screen sermon. It’s funny, though, that a movie about enhanced interrogation and state-sanctioned assassinations finds the political climate at large something toxic enough to distance itself from.

I get it, really. You’re trying to present the facts of history as objectively and entertainingly as possible. It’s not intended as a polemic—and neither was Bigelow and Boal’s Hurt Locker—yet to say neither has a political vantage point, a moral compass, some guiding humanistic principles, is to ignore their subtle and remarkable effect on the final product. As Aaron Sorkin will never understand, this type of commentary can remain unspoken.

So come on, you two—quit playing coy. You make political movies. DEAL WITH IT. No one’s forcing you to attend $1000-a-plate party fundraisers. Or worse, start collecting bumper stickers.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

New York Journalist Writes About Being Written About by Aaron Sorkin

I do not watch The Newsroom. There a reason for that, and that reason is Aaron Sorkin. I do not like him! And sometimes my disgust for a thing on television is enough to keep me from watching it (for example, Mad Men) (the opposite would be Smash, which I couldn’t stop watching despite it being the worst). Anyway, it turns out that my absolute refusal to acknowledge The Newsroom has worked out, as the general consensus is that it’s silly and misogynistic. Surprise, surprise! Aaron Sorkin was like, "I gave you all that character played by Alison Janney, so coooool it, OK?" But one lady won’t stop talking about Aaron Sorkin, and that lady is xojane’s Mandy Stadtmiller.

You see, Stadtmiller, while on staff at the New York Post, went on a few dates with Sorkin. In turn, Sorkin wrote a character on The Newsroom about a terrible gossip columnist. It’s based on Stadtmiller and, boy, she would love for you to know about it!

Have you ever tried to explain the evilness of your job in celebrity gossip trafficking to someone who has been the victim of it?

Yeah, I did that once. On a date with Aaron Sorkin. Then he wrote a character based on it. Who looks just like me. And is an evil gossip trafficker.

Here’s the headline, aggregators (oh, and be sure to put the picture of my face next to Hope Davis; I know, crazy isn’t it?): "FORMER NEW YORK POST WRITER SAYS SHE INSPIRED AARON SORKIN ‘NEWSROOM’ CHARACTER." Hopefully the Internet pickup will eventually "Telephone"-like-game transform it into: "Starfucker says she once gave Oscar winner a notion" because that would be chillingly accurate.

I was the basis for a character — an evil version of me, he said — on Aaron Sorkin’s "Newsroom" after we went on a few dates. You can’t really call them dates even. One time, when I told him that I recognized he was "Fantasy Camp Husband" potential and that I was essentially propelling the chase, he did write, "Well hang on…I’ve asked you out on several actual dates (and happily for me you accepted)."

First of all: sorry, I don’t know how to use Photoshop, so I can’t figure out how to put a picture of Stadtmiller and Hope Davis next to each other. I’m a bad journalist! Also, I couldn’t get through the whole article, because I’m bad at reading things. But let me play terrible blogger for a second and just assume it goes into great detail about the relationship (or whatever) Stadtmiller had with Sorkin, and that Stadtmiller only flippantly recognizes how gross it is to be written about by writing about the dude who wrote about her. So layered! So transparent. Also there are screenshots of emails:

Wouldn’t it be fun to make a cute little Venn diagram showing what happens when the worlds of Hollywood and New York media collide? Of course, the overlapping part in the middle would just be "high school."

Aaron Sorkin Fires Almost Everyone On ‘The Newsroom’ Writing Staff

Aaron Sorkin, asshole, has done yet another assholish thing: he has fired almost everyone of The Newsroom‘s freshman writing staff.

In a statement about the cleaning house for season two, Newsroom‘s network HBO said:

Every year each show reassesses the needs of its writing staffs. This process is nothing out of the ordinary.

It is unclear how many writers were fired, but The Daily surmised it’s less than 10.Reportedly, the only surviving writer is Corrine Kinsbury, who also happens to be Sorkin’s ex-girlfriend. 

That’s rough. But maybe some of those writers will go off and write something on the Internet?

Jane Fonda Said Something on Last Night’s Episode of ‘The Newsroom’

This week’s episode of The Newsroom once again began with its horrible opening titles accompanied by Thomas Newman’s overwrought theme music. The Newsroom’s titles are a joke that was funny in the first episode, but one that has quickly become tired after three. After those 90 tortuous seconds that begin with a black and white image of Sputnik (my eyes won’t quit rolling), the episode commences and we see a montage of News Night‘s staff receiving an urgent email from Will (Jeff Daniels), who then delivers a heavy-handed monologue from the top of six thousand soapboxes at the beginning of his newscast. This terrible, self-important speech, which lasted anywhere between four and 120 minutes (I can’t actually be certain), causes his staff worship him and, apparently, the owner of ACN’s parent company, Leona (Jane Fonda), to despise him. "From this moment on," Will tells his audience, "we’ll decide what goes on the air based on a simple truth: that nothing is more important to a democracy than a well-informed electorate."

Let’s call that speech point A on a timeline. Now let’s call the next scene, a board meeting on the 44th floor of ACN’s building in midtown Manhattan, point B. The distance between points A and B is six months, and the episode bolts through those six months while occasionally flashing forward to the board meeting (point B). It’s almost as if the episode’s writers (Aaron Sorkin and MTV News’ GIDEON YAGO) were so bored with the first two episodes of the season that they felt compelled to fast forward through six months and just highlight the good parts, only there aren’t any good parts. The events of those 180 days include Maggie (Alison Pill) and her Xanax-deprived love triangle, Mack’s (Emily Mortimer) frustration with Will’s blossoming love life, Will’s attacks against the Tea Party (remember: it’s 2010!), a reference to Inception (remember: it’s 2010!) and some anonymous patron at News Night‘s after-work karaoke bar singing India.Arie’s "Video."

But none of that is important. The meat of the episode was that board meeting (point B), where we learn that Will’s new style of reporting the news (objective and fact-based with no segments produced for the purpose of either improving ratings or appealing to advertisers) has decreased News Night‘s audience over those six months (point A to point B). Charlie (Sam Waterston) finds himself being reprimanded by Leona and her son (an actor who looks very familiar but one I don’t feel compelled to Google. Maybe it was Chris Messina? You don’t care). 

But wait. That’s wrong. For most of the episode, Leona’s son does the talking while Leona just sits and looks. Or sits and reacts. Or sits and tilts her head. Or sits and shakes her head. Or sits and goes in and out of focus. It isn’t until the 49-minute mark that she stands to speak. "Jane Fonda is about to make this show worth watching," I thought. "She’s about to make these 2.8 episodes worth my time." I watch her pour a glass of water and take a sip. I watch her swallow. I watch her mouth open, and then I hear the beginning of the worst kind of Sorkin monologue:

"Moses and Jesus are playing golf," she says. I stop listening.

She goes on and on, I fall asleep, dream about watching season two of Enlightened instead of this garbage, and then wake up as her monologue ends. "I’ll fire him, Charlie," she says. "He’s gonna tone it down, or I’m gonna fire him.

So wefinally have some stakes—some semblance of motivation for at least one of the characters that should last throughout the remainder of this first season. Jane Fonda may fire Jeff Daniels. That means she’ll be in future episodes! Great! It also means I need to keep watching The Newsroom. Shit.

I really hope they hired Sway to write the rest of the season.

This Week in Bon Temps: A Lot of Bootin’, Not So Much Rallyin’

We’re five episodes Alan Ball’s deep into True Blood‘s fifth season, and it’s time for the show to stop vomiting on its own shoes for a couple minutes and decide what it wants to be. Is a winking self-parody, where every character is on the joke of living in a fictional universe full of "Supes"? (Supernaturals. Ugh. Don’t get me started.) 

Is it a dark satire, and if so, can someone please explain what it is that True Blood is satirizing anymore, now that we’ve covered America, religion, homosexuality, the media, rednecks, hippies, the word "Sookie"

Or is True Blood just a Dark Shadows soap opera, with the occasional pithy line acknowledging its own goofiness or "culturally relevant" plot development ("Now we have our own Smoke Monster…from Iraq!" – this show), attempting to keep viewer numbers up on a program that directly precedes The Newsroom?

Oh I get it. True Blood is an Aaron Sorkin show, but with vampires/werewolves/shifters/Ifrits! (That’s right. Ifrits. Google it. Because someone in the show actually says "I Googled it," in reference to True Blood‘s newest obscure evilness. It’s like a very surreptitious way the show gets its audience to do its homework for them.) Like an Aaron Sorkin show, True Blood simultaneously wants to be taken very, very seriously, while still having the "out" of reminding its audience, "Hey, this shit isn’t real, so just have fun and don’t worry about it!"

Okay, to push this analogy farther: when Sorkin was on Colbert last week, he made this big to-do about how The Newsroom was this idealized, fantasy landscape of news media, and that people should care about the show notbecause of the subject matter, but because of the interpersonal drama and the characters. When Colbert tried to call him on this new strain of evasive bullshit, Aaron Sorkin made some comment about right, how all high schools are exactly like Glee. Meaning: if Glee doesn’t have to strive for the gritty realism of The Wire, why should his shows? Do your best! 

So in Aaron Sorkin’s perfect world, it doesn’t matter what setting you put your fully-formed, three-dimensional characters (who all sleep with each other): it could be a sports newsroom, a regular newsroom, a courthouse, or on Mars. (As long as there are courts and newrooms on Mars.) That’s a strawman argument, because Sorkin’s characters are all earnestly invested in their beliefs about the world they inhabit (some might say too invested), so in order for his stories to work, a viewer also has to de facto give a shit about…the news. The White House. Facebook. Whatever. 

True Blood no longer cares if we care about vampires or Sookie or any of this made-up crap. Sometimes the dialogue will become Sorkin-esque, like Roman reminiscing about the chancellor he was forced to stake. "Drew was a good man…we signed the Vampire Right’s Amendment together," Christopher Meloni says with a straight face. Then two beats later, when Salome tells him that there are traitors in their midst, he replies "No shit." He is basically rolling his eyes with the audience at her over-the-top dialogue after delivering a totally over-the-top speech! You can’t do that on television! Well you can, but don’t expect anyone to get real invested in your plot when you can barely be bothered to yourself.

Same goes for Sookie, who throws up all over Alcide before she can give him a blowjob. She turns around to find that her ex-boyfriends, Eric and Bill, have vampire-appeared in her doorway to make snotty comments and tell her she has to help them find Russell Edgington. In a world where characters act in some manner that would make us care about them, Sookie would be mortified to be caught in the act like that. She would also probably be furious, seeing as the two loves of her life disappeared from town the night she told them she couldn’t date either of them, and then show up to be dicks and then demand she use her fairy powers to help them….not be killed?

But instead, this is what she says: "Must be a Thursday." Then she climbs out her broken front door, mumbling something about "boot and rally." 

So which is it, writers of True Blood? Are you doing that Eminem thing from 8 Mile where you are dissing yourself in your own lyrics so no one can make fun of you? Is that whole subplot where Jessica and Tara suddenly act like they are in an episode of Girls your version of telling the audience that you do have a friend named Cheddar Bob? 

Maybe it’s the fact that True Blood has the super highest ratings, and that means everyone in the writer’s room is allowed to smoke as much PCP-laced marijuana as they want. What else would explain the juxtaposing silliness of a human police presence in a town of supernatural beings with the horrific imagery of Jesus’ head on a platter, his mouth sewn shut, desperately trying to convey a message which only his ex-boyfriend’s schizophrenic mother can decipher?

And when this show isn’t trying to be an Aaron Sorkin production, it’s now trying to be Lost, which at least makes a little more sense, but is so obvious in its efforts that its a little sad. Like, it’s great to see the Smoke Monster getting work, but it’s a little heavy-handed to make the Ifrit part of the curse of a dying woman whom Terry Bellefleur shot in Iraq. Woof, right? 

You’d think Terry would remember something like that, but apparently he’s only now just remembered anything that happened during his tour of duty. Whatever, just explain it away with PTSD. The Hurt Locker. Pyromaniac ghosts. Google it. No shit.

On the bright side, Dennis O’Hare finally got a line, and Bill and Eric might be dead by sunrise if the nerd fromVeronica Mars wasn’t lying about their cross-bombs being activated. So there’s always next week to look forward to!

Everything Every Female Character Did During Episode Two of ‘The Newsroom’

The second episode of The Newsroom opens with Will McAvoy (Dumb and Dumber‘s Jeff Daniels, according to Wikipedia) sitting in his home office studying the names, faces, and backgrounds of his new staff—a sign of a growing dedication to them despite his outward hostility. Good for him! That’s great! Nice guy! I, however, will continue referencing Wikipedia each time I want to know one of those morons’ names.

Speaking of morons, this episode centers on MacKenzie’s (Emily Mortimer, according to Wikipedia) attempt to change the way News Night reports the news. She calls it "News 2.0," because in this parallel-universe-alternate-history-2010, people still speak like it’s 2006. They also use email like it’s 2001, something we discover as MacKenzie (again, I had to consult Wikipedia) accidentally sends a personal email to her entire staff. But that wasn’t the only thing a female character did on last night’s episode that made me question Sorkin’s opinion of women. He likes writing women so that they spend a great deal of screen time either performing tasks for men, being frazzled, or both.

Here’s a list of everything the female characters did during episode two of The Newsroom.

  1. Will’s nameless housekeeper: Dusted Will’s office.
  2. MacKenzie: Was flustered while giving a presentation.
  3. MacKenzie: Didn’t know what “auto-correct has been enabled on your Outlook” meant.
  4. Margaret: Didn’t know what “auto-correct has been enabled on your Outlook” meant, either.
  5. Margaret: Looked to a man (literally looked at a man) for answers.
  6. MacKenzie: Didn’t know what a good mnemonic device was.
  7. Kendra: Said something smart!
  8. Margaret: Didn’t know what “prejudicial” meant.
  9. Inconsequential Female Staff Member: Said, “I still don’t understand.”
  10. Margaret: Was frazzled and confused about something.
  11. Sloan: Had an intelligent adult conversation with MacKenzie!
  12. MacKenzie: Had an intelligent adult conversation with Sloan!
  13. Margaret: Was frazzled after ruining a segment
  14. Margaret: Begged Jim for another assignment.
  15. Kendra: Said something smart!
  16. Inconsequential Female Staff Member: Said something smart!
  17. MacKenzie: Thought she sent a personal email, but her misunderstanding of technology caused her to accidentally send it to her entire staff.
  18. MacKenzie: Thought she could solve the previously mentioned problem by pouring coffee on a phone.
  19. MacKenzie: Was frazzled about all of that.
  20. Kendra: Said something smart!
  21. MacKenzie: Made a poor attempt at explaining her past infidelity.
  22. Tess (I just found out Inconsequential Female Staff Member’s actual name!): Was asked to perform a task by Will.
  23. Tess:Nodded at Will.
  24. MacKenzie: Was frazzled.
  25. Margaret: Looked nervous.
  26. Kendra: Said something smart!
  27. Margaret: SAID SOMETHING SMART!
  28. Gwen, the second runner up at Miss USA: Said stupid things on national television.
  29. Gwen, the second runner up at Miss USA: Continued saying stupid things on national television.
  30. Sarah Palin: Said something Sarah Palin actually said once.
  31. Female karaoke singer: Karaoked a a Colbie Caillat song about being smitten with a boy.
  32. Margaret: Drank a Cosmopolitan.
  33. Margaret: Got drunk on that single Cosmopolitan.
  34. Margaret: Was delusional.
  35. Tess: Was asked by Jim to take Margaret home.
  36. Tess: Obeyed and took Margaret home.
  37. Female Bar Patron 1: Told Jim he acted “awesome.”
  38. Female Bar Patron 2: Agreed with Female Bar Patron 1.
  39. MacKenzie: Drank a whiskey (scotch?) on the rocks.

Oh God, the episode ended and Thomas Newman’s horrible self-important theme started again.

 

And then I scrambled for the remote, as desperate to turn off the TV as Timmy and Lex were to turn off the flashlight that was attracting the T-Rex once Nedry disabled all of Jurassic Park’s electric fences.

Aaron Sorkin is a Self-Plagiarizer

Did you watch The Newsroom last night? I didn’t! I’ll tell you why: 1. I was out at a bar having fun like a normal human, and 2. I kind of hate Aaron Sorkin. Sure, I have never seen The West Wing, Studio 60, or Sports Night, but I always felt like I’ve had a good handle on them because I have seen The American President, The Social Network, and Moneyball. Know what I mean? What I’m saying: I can only take so much of big-feathered A-list actors delivering grand monologues that give Mr. Sorkin a major boner. Turns out I was on to something!

If you weren’t already turned off by his general shitty attitude toward women and anyone, basically, who is not Aaron Sorkin, you’ll be delighted to see nearly eight minutes of proof in which Sorkin is, in fact, not that creative and original after all!

(via Bobby Finger)