While the doors of Sports Night shuttered after only two seasons, the show helped launch the television careers of several actors and became an early indicator of what Aaron Sorkin could do on TV. When the cast came back together for EW‘s reunion issue, they discussed some of the show’s most memorable moments.
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Back in 1998, when TV viewers turned to Friends and Frasier for punchlines and ER and NYPD Blue for drama, one series boldly attempted to be a one-stop shop: ABC’s Sports Night. Set in the high-stakes world of a live sports news program, the Aaron Sorkin-scribed dramedy followed the behind-the-scenes exploits of fictional “Sports Night” coanchors Casey (Peter Krause) and Dan (Josh Charles), their brilliant producer Dana (Felicity Huffman), harried associate producer Natalie (Sabrina Lloyd), gruff executive Isaac (Robert Guillaume), and whip-smart researcher Jeremy (Josh Malina).
Sports Night was adored by the media—including EW, which called it “the most consistently funny, intelligent, and emotional of any new-season series.” But the show never became a hit, struggling with low ratings and unsympathetic network execs who insisted on an awkward laugh track for the first season and then canceled the series in 2000.
Yet a funny thing has happened in the nearly 15 years since the lights went out at the fictional Continental Sports Channel. Thanks to DVDs and online streaming—and a ripple effect from Sorkin’s hits in TV (The West Wing) and film (The Social Network)—Sports Night found fans beyond its all-too-brief two-season run. “‘Ahead of its time’ is overused,” says Malina. “But it actually is appropriate to Aaron and Sports Night.”
That time began in 1995. Bill Clinton was in the White House. TLC were on the radio. And Aaron Sorkin was living out of L.A.’s Four Seasons hotel, watching too much ESPN. READ FULL STORY
The lights are about to dim on the HBO’s The Newsroom. The drama, created by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) and focusing on fictional cable news channel ACN, begins its final season on Nov. 9, and will wrap up its story in a tight six episodes. “It was because of my schedule,” Sorkin says of the shortened season. “But, as it turned out, six was the right number. I don’t know what we would have done with a seventh episode.”
So what’s in these final hours? EW talked to Sorkin about weddings, power plays, and Twitter scandals.
EW: Will there be a time jump when the show premieres?
AARON SORKIN: We’re ahead about five months. However, once the season starts each episode begins right after the last one ended so there are no time jumps during the season. It’s a very compressed season. Once again, we’re telling one story throughout the whole season, there are stories that come off like branches, but there’s one story that we begin in the first episode and goes to the end.
Can you tease the main story?
Well, without giving too much away, it’s something that we’ve been talking about for the last 2 years: government and journalism. A lot of people feel like the current administration has been really tough on reporters and whistleblowers. I realize I’m not making it sound exciting but it involves one of our characters in a lot of jeopardy. Our people have a story that was given to them by a government whistleblower and the Justice Department wants the name of their source and they won’t give it up. So we see how far they’re willing to go for that.
Will the fallout from Jerry (Hamish Linklater) and Genoa play in?
It does a little bit. But the bigger thing that comes along is that we meet Reese’s father’s children by his next wife so we meet his half-brother and his half-sister is Kat Dennings. And they own a 45-percent share of the controlling stock in the company and that begins a story rolling of a hostile takeover of AWN.
Will (Jeff Daniels) proposed to Mac (Emily Mortimer) in the finale. Are they still engaged?
Again without giving too much away, I knew going into this season that they’re gonna have to get married. There’s gonna have to be a wedding. How do you do a wedding that we haven’t seen before on TV? And I think we came up with a way.
Is Maggie back on stable ground?
When we meet Maggie at the beginning of the season, she sort of has the eye of the tiger. She is trying to shed every rotten thing that’s happened to her in the last few years and toughen up and breathe new life into herself. She really completes that part of her character arc this season.
Is Jim (John Gallagher Jr.) still dating Hallie (Grace Gummer)?
Yeah Jim is still dating Hallie, but there’s tension in that relationship. Hallie is actually now working for ACN Digital at the beginning of the season. And mirroring something that happened at MSNBC a while back when someone tweeted a quip that was offensive to Republicans. It was a big deal—MSNBC had to apologize. They had to fire the producer who sent the tweet and everything. So something very similar happens to Hallie. She in the middle of the night, really tired, tweets something from ACN’s account, sort of immediately realizes what she’s done, deletes it but it’s too late. That begins a story that lasts the whole season, too.
How do you feel about this last season? Excited? Sad?
I’m really excited. I do feel it’s a really solid season. I think we’re wrapping up a lot of stories in a nice way. I miss everybody already but I’m in the editing room every day with the show so for me I don’t have postpartum depression yet. But that will come, I promise. On the other side of the wall from the editing room is our stage, so I can hear them pulling apart our set and throwing it in dumpsters, so that’s hard.
Did the show end how you thought it would? Did things evolve?
For most of the time, I didn’t know how the show was going to end. I would have small images of what I wanted to see. But the closer I got to the end of the season in terms of writing, the more I was able to see the end of the season finale. Once we got there, it happened more easily than I thought it was going to.
Netflix has set out to stage an Aaron Sorkin reunion of sorts. According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Newsroom‘s Sam Waterston has been cast in an upcoming comedy for the streaming giant, alongside Jane Fonda (The Newsroom), Lily Tomlin (The West Wing), and Martin Sheen (do I have to say what show Martin Sheen was on? Okay fine, The West Wing).
The show, titled Grace and Frankie, follows two rivals—Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin)—who make amends after they discover that their husbands—Sheen and Waterston, respectively—have been keeping up an affair with each other since 1994 and now plan to legally marry.
Shhh. Can you hear that? It’s the winds of change… and they’re blowing blank pieces of paper all over the Desert of Discontent, or wherever ACN’s News Night team has gathered for The Newsroom season 2′s promotional campaign. (Thought we were done with tumbleweeds and moody stares after that second Newsroom trailer? Think again!)
These nine new posters — which feature each of the show’s regulars, as well as a group shot — come on the heels of a Newsroom event at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in which series creator Aaron Sorkin teased a few more specific details about his drama’s sophomore outing. (Spoilers, naturally, follow.)
Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) continue working together despite their history and tense romantic future? In the promo below, Mac reminds Will: “For just a minute, you forgot that you were mad at me.”
We also get a look at Marcia Gay Harden’s character, a key element in the new season-long arc, which includes a deposition about a wrongful termination suit. And Neal (Dev Patel), who was so brash as to be a proponent of blogs last season, this time around latches on to another story his bosses are reluctant to go along with — the Occupy Movement.
Maggie (Alison Pill) “is going to lose everything,” which hopefully includes frumpy sweaters — but not a place in the delightfully frustrating love quadrangle with Jim (John Gallagher Jr.), Don (Thomas Sadoski), Sloan (Olivia Munn), and the Romney campaign.
Watch the promo below:
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Host Piers Morgan spent most of PaleyFest’s Sunday night Newsroom panel offering his own opinions on the 24-hour news cycle and posing wandering, often self-absorbed ethical questions to the HBO series’ actors as if they were actual news producers. As a result, viewers gained little insight in to season 2 — except that the Sandy Hook tragedy may be addressed and that fans of Sloan and Don’s sexual chemistry will not be let down. The panel finally heated up toward the end via audience questions. Below, the highlights: READ FULL STORY
This just in: Simpsons news anchor Kent Brockman will turn to Aaron Sorkin during a career dilemma. The Oscar-winning writer and creator of HBO’s The Newsroom will make a cameo appearance on the animated Fox comedy, EW has learned. READ FULL STORY
The ad itself is called “Changed Man,” and it bears out that, well, change isn’t always a good thing. Jeff Daniels plays top-of-his-game news anchor Will McAvoy, who spectacularly undermines his hard-earned reputation for objectivity when he has a Network-size freak-out at a college campus Q&A.
“When you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f–k you’re talking about,” says McAvoy, who later adds: “I’m a registered Republican, I only seem liberal because I believe that hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage.”
Even in the age of viral videos, such a misstep is forgivable — and, more to the point, forgettable — but does Will want to forget or be forgiven? Such is the prickly underbelly of the deliciously rat-a-tat-ing trailer for Newsroom, which also features an enviable cast including Jane Fonda, Sam Waterston, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill, Dev Patel, Chris Messina, Thomas Sadoski, and Olivia Munn. Check it out below. READ FULL STORY
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