Daniels calls Will “the role of a lifetime.” And citing the talent on “The Newsroom” both in front of and behind the camera, Daniels calls it “the best gig I’ve had since `Purple Rose’ with Woody.” (That would be “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” the enchanting comedy-fantasy written and directed by Woody Allen that reached theaters way back in 1985.) “I never would have thought that, at 57, I’d get this. Then Aaron came long.”
Besides Daniels, the splendid cast channeling Sorkin’s words includes Alison Pill, John Gallagher, Jr., Dev Patel, Thomas Sadoski and Olivia Munn. And in a delightful role, Sam Waterston (“Law & Order”) plays the pleasantly pickled news division president, Charlie Skinner, who, despite his potent liquid diet, is fashioning an extreme makeover for “News Night” _ and for Will in particular _ to reach their full potential.
But it won’t come easy.
“With everyone reaching unrealistically high, they’re gonna fall on banana peels a lot,” Sorkin warns during a recent interview. And he doesn’t just mean metaphorically: In the premiere, one of the characters comedically stumbles and another takes a pratfall. “Their idealism does crash into reality.”
Will’s hard-bitten idealism finds its voice in a stirring monologue in the episode’s first scene. Appearing on a panel in front of scores of college students, he is sandwiched between a pair of high-octane pundits _ one conservative, one liberal _ who are bellowing past him at each other.
He is jolted out of his disapproving silence only after a fresh-faced co-ed asks him to explain “in one sentence or less” what it is that makes America the greatest country in the world.
“It’s NOT the greatest country in the world _ not anymore,” he blurts out, reducing the crowd to a horrified hush. After a blistering rant, he 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.”
Will has had a rude awakening: The country is in a mess _ polarized, misdirected and stalled _ and the media share the blame.
Back in the newsroom a few weeks later, he encounters the just-hired MacKenzie. But the tensions between them (professional and sexual, each as fun for viewers to witness as the other) quickly take a backseat to a huge breaking story that day: the BP oil spill. “The Newsroom” begins in April 2010.
Setting the series in the recent past is Sorkin’s way of framing actual news events to underpin his narrative while allowing a scripted drama to keep pace.
“Besides,” notes Sorkin, “it’s always fun when the audience knows more than the characters do. And it gives you a chance to revisit the news with 20-20 hindsight.”
As Will and the “News Night” staff tease out early details of the catastrophe, a rousing debate about business, politics and the public interest is triggered in the form of Sorkin’s dialogue.
Sorkin insists his mission with the show isn’t pushing any single agenda.
“I’m not qualified to do that,” he insists. “The characters on the show express opinions, but one opinion is expressed so it can create a point of friction with another opinion.”
The 51-year-old Sorkin explains that he comes from a family of lawyers and future lawyers, where the dinner table rang with spirited debate, where “anyone who used one word when they could have used 10 wasn’t trying hard enough,” he says with a smile. “I love the sound of dialogue. It sounds like music to me. And I wanted to imitate that sound with my characters.”View Entire Story
By John Solomon
How the government's punishing of the exposure of official wrongdoing can linger for years
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
A mother of three and a passionate conservative, Shirley Husar changes the game.
Eye on Europe, the Middle East and Africa
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention