Tagged: aaron sorkin

“The Newsroom” reviewed


Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, I know the Internet does not need another post or story or tweet about “The Newsroom.” I recognize that the world seems to have reached peak “Newsroom” (or peak Sorkin, depending on your particular druthers). At the same time, I finally watched the show and now I am filled with this inescapable desire to discuss many of the reasons why “The Newsroom” is bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad and bad.

SO, I am saying this to demonstrate that if you don’t want to read about “The Newsroom,” that is totally fine, I get it, I really do, and so I release you from any obligation to potentially just take a look and see how I felt about the show. I have tucked my entire review behind the jump, so you are free to move along and enjoy yourself. Okay? Okay. Glad we had this talk. Continue reading

“The Newsroom” pilot posted online

Did you watch “The Newsroom” last night? Apparently about 2.7 million of you did. Did you like it? Did you like it when the one character gave a couple of loud, stirring speeches? Did you enjoy it when a word or phrase was repeated multiple times? Or was your favorite part when that one male character berated another female character, or the other time a male character berated a female character?

I didn’t actually watch it yet, so I have no opinion on the matter. (I’m just assuming all of the above happened because I’ve seen an Aaron Sorkin production before.) But I’ll watch it soon! If you didn’t watch it or if you don’t have HBO, you’re in luck. HBO put the entire pilot episode online.

(Even though they put it on YouTube, the video is actually not embeddable, which I have to assume is somehow Aaron Sorkin’s fault. His views on new media and technology and basically the entirety of life after 1950 are pretty well known — he’s not a fan — and so I wonder if he somehow harangued the HBO employee responsible for putting the episode online and threw a fit about giving away the episode for free, until he found out you could post an episode online but add an extra step distancing it from viewers, which presumably satisfied his desire to have his work seen while also satisfying the part of him that calls people “Internet girl.”)

(And BY THE WAY, have you read that interview with Sorkin? Because if not, you need to read that interview with Sorkin.)

The Aaron Sorkin Curve

Something occurred to me when reading the scathing, brutal reviews of “The Newsroom,” Aaron Sorkin’s new TV show. (This show premieres tonight on HBO, and the critics are largely saying it’s basically everything bad you might imagine from an Aaron Sorkin production, with few of the redeeming qualities that often outweigh his tics/problems.) What if Aaron Sorkin already peaked?

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Commencement Addresses

Around this time of year, videos and transcripts of recent college commencement addresses begin to appear. Some of them are very good! Aaron Sorkin, for instance, gave a really nice address to students at Syracuse University (his alma mater). Yes, he largely repurposed an address he gave at the school in 1997 (link via), but Sorkin has a well-established habit of revisiting his own lines, so I guess it’s not that big of a deal? (Unless you were at the ceremony in 1997 and also at the one earlier this month, and maybe in that case you feel very let down because despite it being 15 years later and Sorkin having created “The West Wing” and won an Oscar for “The Social Network” during that time, he apparently doesn’t have much in the way of new thoughts to offer graduates.) Anyway, it’s still a good speech.

Longform gathered some other gems, including Sheryl Sandberg’s speech at Barnard last year and Jon Stewart’s words to William & Mary in 2004. I’ve mentioned this before, but I have no idea what my commencement speaker said. As such, I will again point to two of my personal favorites: David Foster Wallace’s 2005 address at Kenyon College (audio) and Conan O’Brien’s address to Harvard in 2000.

Aaron Sorkin Will Adapt Steve Jobs biography

Remember how Sony bought the rights to Walter Isaacson’s authorized Steve Jobs biography (titled “Steve Jobs”) so they could turn it into a movie? And remember how they wanted Aaron Sorkin to adapt the book for the big screen? And remember how Sorkin said he was “strongly considering” it? And then remember how that was last fall and it’s been several months and so you’ve probably forgotten all about that other movie, because you have turned your attention to the Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher, which is obviously going to be the best biopic ever made and you can’t even understand why anyone else would even bother, even if it is Oscar-winning doyenne of dialogue Aaron Sorkin?

Wait, where was I? Right, Sorkin, Jobs. Anyway, Sorkin finally signed on to adapt the book. That’s the news here.

“The Day Comedy Won” (or, How “30 Rock” Outlived “Studio 60”)

In the fall of 2006, two writer-driven projects with eerily similar premises debuted on the same network. (That the network has been in last place for a while now and is going nowhere fast should not surprise you.) One was the highly-hyped “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” an hourlong look behind the scenes of a sketch comedy show that marked Aaron Sorkin’s return to television three years after he left “The West Wing.” The other was Tina Fey’s sitcom about an “SNL”-esque show. One show was supposed to save a network and become The Next Big Thing, while the other had Tina Fey.

Four years later, “30 Rock” is making a case for being one of the best sitcoms of the modern era, while “Studio 60” is a punchline. Hey, how’d that happen again?

Aaron Sorkin opens up

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of “The Social Network” is the involvement of Aaron Sorkin. I love Sorkin’s work. I think he’s beyond talented, leaps and bounds ahead of any other big writer in Hollywood in terms of lyricism, rhythm and sheer quality of prose. So when I heard he was writing “the Facebook movie,” I was intrigued.

Sorkin’s career has been a little rocky since the beginning of the 21st century, when he was the genius behind “The West Wing” and the gone-too-soon “Sports Night.”  In recent years, he wrote a Mike Nichols movie (“Charlie Wilson’s War”) that was decent, but not great, and he created and wrote a new TV series, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” which started out swimmingly but soon devolved into pure, utter garbage. (And I stuck with it the entire way, for the same reason I own the two books that collected some of Sorkin’s favorite teleplays from the first four seasons of the “West Wing.” I’m a fan.)

It appears, from all early reports and scene snippets, that he’s back on his A-game with “The Social Network.” It makes sense; when writing about genius upstarts crashing against a traditionalist system, he’s at his best (“A Few Good Men,” “The West Wing”). (Whereas with “Charlie Wilson’s War,” he was delving into foreign policy, never his strongest angle on “The West Wing,” especially in his final seasons, and when it comes to “Studio 60,” the less said the better.)

He spoke with W Magazine (and M.I.A.’s favorite writer Lynn Hirschberg) and the entire thing is tremendous.

“When I first got sober, my biggest fear was, Am I going to be able to write without cocaine? In the past my dealer would come over, and I’d do drugs all night long and I’d write high. I was worried that I couldn’t write with the sun out.” After rehab, to test himself, he took a two-week job polishing dialogue for a Michael Bay movie called The Rock. “I was just writing quips for Sean Connery and Nic Cage, but the first time I wrote in the daytime, I was so proud. Now my firewall is Roxy. I’d let her down if I relapsed.”

There’s much more, and it is all worth reading.