Good news: Aaron Sorkin's highly-anticipated, yet-to-be-named cable news drama is going to become a reality. HBO announced that they've ordered a ten-episode season of the show, which will mark the prolific screenwriter's return to TV and his first major project since the critically acclaimed film 'The Social Network.'
The series will focus on a cable news anchor, played by Jeff Daniels, and his staff, who "set out on a patriotic and quixotic mission to do the news well in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles and their own personal entanglements."
HBO has already recruited some big names to guest star in the weekly, hour-long drama. In addition to Daniels, Olivia Munn will play Sloan, a newsroom staffer, and Sam Waterston will play their boss. Dev Patel, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pil, John Gallagher, Jr., and Thomas Sadoski will fill out the newsroom staff.
A lot of times, when a show that we love gets canceled way too early in its run, we like to trot out the mantra: "It was before its time." But looking at a television landscape with The Office, 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation (and that's just one night on one network), I really do think Sports Night may have been too innovative for its own good.
Creator Aaron Sorkin even wanted the sitcom to air without a laugh track, but ABC balked and there is one evident in the first season. It was dropped by the second season, but unfortunately the show was dropped as well after only 45 episodes.
Character relations were front and center, and the humor was much more subtle and dry. In 1998, comedies were still dominating the television landscape, led by traditionally formatted shows like Frasier, Friends, The Drew Carey Show and ABC's TGIF lineup. Maybe the very non-traditional Sports Night should have been an hour long, and acted more like FOX's Ally McBeal.
As previously reported, Rachel Bilson is also slated for a guest spot on a January episode, but before that, Joanna Garcia will appear on the December 7 episode as a former college buddy of Ted's. Peet isn't necessarily known for her comedic roles – or appearing much on television for that matter, but has recently done both as a guest spot on Comedy Central's 'Important Things With Demetri Martin.' Her last major television stint was in 2006, she played Jordan McDeere on the short lived Aaron Sorkin drama, 'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.'
The catch? That's also the same turf he covered on another series, 'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,' which, while also late, is not particularly lamented by anybody.
'It's going to be what turns out to be the third in the trilogy of TV shows that take place behind the scenes of a TV show, but this will be a different kind of TV show,' Sorkin told the site. "That's all I can let out of the bag right now."
I agree with most of the critics that the series took a drop in quality in Season 5. With the departure of Sorkin, the characters began to make decisions that seemed inconsistent with the first four seasons (I'll write more about that in a separate article). Seasons 6 and 7 saw an upswing in quality, mostly due to the change in the whole premise of the show (making it about the Presidential Election rather than the Presidency).
The West Wing was a very deep and intelligent program and probably better than we deserve. Next up: Aaron Sorkin's other television contributions, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
If Jay Leno isn't the answer for NBC prime time, perhaps the network should think about booking President Obama. NBC News devoted two hours, on Tuesday and Wednesday night, for Inside the Obama White House and the ratings were strong. Better than the insipid I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here, which acted as a lead-in. Of course the season finale of Law & Order: SVU on Tuesday didn't hurt the news production.
Having watched the two hours, NBC should sign the president ASAP. There's always the curiosity factor when a viewer is being given access behind the scenes, and that's what Inside the Obama White House did. It was a look at the real West Wing, which reminded me a lot of the fictional, Aaron Sorkin West Wing creation, and that was quite cool. President Obama still fascinates me, and it's well past 100 days.
His last show utilizing this concept, Studio 60, didn't fare so well and was cancelled after a single season. However, this program concept would also incorporate the discussion of politics, which Sorkin excels at, as proven in The West Wing. We may have a winner here.
Sorkin is certainly a multi-talented writer. He's written movies and plays as well as television. I believe he can make this sort of program work. I even confess to liking an earlier incarnation of this concept, Al Franken's Lateline.
So what do you think? Do you welcome a return by Sorkin to television or is his reputation overblown?
The premise is the same: Trevor Pierce claims to be Cupid, exiled from Mt. Olympus, and he needs to find true love for 100 couples before he is allowed back home. After Trevor is arrested for one of his stunts and sent to a psychological hospital, singles self-help guru Dr. Claire McCrae is assigned to keep track of him as he makes his way in the outside world. This time around, the show is set in the fast paced and cynical world of New York, complete with all the modern touches of dating in the late '00s (Maybe Cupid will have a Twitter account).
I spoke to the stars of the new Cupid last week. While I was on the phone, I asked Paulson about what happened on her previous series, Studio 60. I got a pretty interesting response...
On the Pie Hole set of Daisies, for instance, all the stars and producers were available for interviews. Kristin Chenoweth held court right outside the pie-shaped diner's entrance, sporting a splint on her right hand from a recent bat bite (I kid you not... wonder what scene they were shooting at the time). But I was there to ask her about how she felt about being the model for Harriet Hayes on Studio 60 two years ago. And she was very candid about the situation,especially in light of the fact that her former (and current?) boyfriend, S60 creator Aaron Sorkin, never was.
First, though, a question about Jeff Probst; Chenoweth dropped the tidbit that the two of them dated when she announced his Emmy nomination the week before. Audio is after the jump.
The box set costs $69.99 and contains a 10th anniversary book, behind-the-scenes featurettes, new interviews, blooper reels, commentaries by the cast and creative team, and deleted scenes. A complete series box set has been available since 2002, but that version had no special features.
1) Cowboy Up Time
Remember the episode of Lost when Ben wanted to convince Jack that he was in communication with the world outside the island? To prove that he was telling the truth, he showed Jack a video of the Boston Red Sox winning the world series in 2004. You can't get more real than that, right? And yet it was used in one of the most out of this world shows on the air. In fact, using Lost's own terminology, the Red Sox video is a constant truth in a universe that's a complete fiction.
If you are avid readers of TV Squad you know that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is taking a little break. Okay, it may be taking a long break. All right, the next time we see it may be on the Brilliant But Cancelled website! Regardless of whether or not it returns to the NBC schedule (which is should, since it does have a full order) I am still rooting for the show. Not because of Aaron Sorkin, or the subject matter, or even for the walk-and-talks. I am rooting for Studio 60 to succeed due to one cast member . . . Sarah Paulson as Harriet Hayes.
Oh, wait a minute. That's for my 'The reason I'm NOT rooting for Studio 60' post. Who I meant to mention was Matt Perry as Matt Albie. Well, also Bradley Whitford as Danny Tripp, Amanda Peet as Jordan McDeere, D.L. Hughley as Simon Stiles, and pretty much everyone else on the cast except Harriet Hayes. But, mostly I'm rooting for Matt Perry.
Something isn't right in Sorkinland. In last Monday's episode, Matt Albie and Andy Mackinaw are feeling nostalgic. In a scene early in the show Andy asks Matt if he remembers his first office . . . the one that was so small that you could write on both walls if you reached your arms out with pencils in your hands. Matt mentioned that was his second office, and that his first was actually the floor in the middle of the hallway.
Now, the reason methinks something is afoot is because I just finished reading Gasping For Airtime, the excellent Jay Mohr autobiography that chronicles his two year stint on Saturday Night Live in the mid-1990's. In this book he talks about the dressing room that he had during his second season on the show. . . the one that was so small that he could take a pencil in each hand, stretch his arms out, and write on the walls. He also mentioned a conversation he had with SNL alum Mike Myers about his first office. It turns out that it was on the floor in the middle of the hallway.
After viewing the frighteningly accurate parody of Studio 60 that MADtv performed I got to thinking (which is always a bad thing). I can't remember a producer/creator of any television show in recent history who has carried so many of his or her trademarks from one program to another. I guess you could say Dick Wolf does this from show to show, but the Law & Order series is probably considered a franchise. Aaron Sorkin has produced three different shows that have had similar structural elements, including actors and actresses. When viewers watch these shows they anticipate those features and are disappointed when they don't see them.
So, with that in mind, here are the five trademarks that Aaron Sorkin puts in his shows.
The walk-and-talk: Others shows have people walking and talking all of the time, but usually slowly down a straight hallway. Aaron has taken this concept and perfected it, making it all his own. His walk-and-talks feature characters going up-and-down stairs, through security gates, behind bleachers, and around corners. He sometimes makes these strolls seem like a relay race: two people will talk for a while, then one person will tag-out and a new conversation will begin with another character. Meanwhile, as they walk they begin and end conversations with so much information that you need to record the show so you catch everything missed. And, speaking about those conversations . . .
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