Then you get a look at those reviews, and you get defensive—and to be fair, there’s something fascinating about the level of hatred in them. It’s easy to get a sense, in parsing the sneering, snarking, frequently angry tone of those reviews and posts, that they might not’ve given Sorkin a fair shake—like the hold-him-up, knock-him-down cycle of critical response (which the writer had already been through once, with his post-West Wing NBC series Studio 60) had coalesced around the notion of taking the recently-minted Oscar winner down a notch or two. And there’s an argument to be made that he was just asking for trouble by creating a series about the media—specifically, about how the media in its current incarnation is a gutless, witless, sensationalistic pursuer of the lowest common denominator. A media writer may agree with Sorkin’s claims about the industry, but it’s kind of like talking about my male pattern baldness or spare tire around the middle: I can say that stuff, because it’s me. You don’t get to write about my flaws, and you sure don’t get to let Jeff Daniels pontificate eloquently about them.
BLAST: How did you first get involved with The Newsroom? And how did you go on to play Tess Westin?
MJ: While I was working in the news division, Aaron Sorkin came in to do research on a new pilot he was thinking of writing. I was in charge of him the day he visited, which was awesome because he’s a great guy, and also, I’m a big fan of his work. After he came in he started writing the first draft of the pilot and would ask me questions about the technical newsroom stuff as it came up. He sent me the first draft of the pilot, I fell in love with it. I knew then that I had to be as much a part of the project as I could. Despite never having acted before, something made me ask him if I could audition.
He was very honest in his response and basically told me that that’s now how it works—just because you work in a newsroom doesn’t mean you can play someone who works in a newsroom on TV. Nevertheless, when auditions came around, he gave in and said that since I’d been a big help to him and hadn’t asked for any sort of compensation, he would let me come in for an audition. He also reiterated that I shouldn’t expect anything and that real actors who had trained their whole lives would be the people they were choosing, but I decided to challenge myself and give it a shot. And the rest is history…
Monterey Media has acquired U.S. rights to the independent film “Leonie,” from director Hisako Matsui. Emily Mortimer stars in the film with Christina Hendricks and Shidô Nakamura.
Mortimer plays the American journalist, educator and editor Leonie Gilmour, who falls in love with the famous Japanese poet Yone Noguchi (Shidô Nakamura) and gives birth to a son, the artist and architect Isamu Noguchi. The film is based on a true story.
Matsui was inspired to make the project after reading Masayo Duus’ “The Life of Isamu Noguchi.” Matsui also co-wrote the script and served as a producer on the film, and went through 14 drafts of the screenplay.
The film was shot on location in Japan and in the U.S.
The deal was brokered by ICM Partners on behalf of the filmmakers. The agency also represents Mortimer along with Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Independent Talent. Monterey plans a winter theatrical release for the film.
Sherlock Holmes has found an accomplice of sorts in The Newsroom‘s David Harbour. TVLine has learned exclusively that the actor has booked a guest spot in an episode of CBS’ new fall drama Elementary. He’ll play Dr. Mason Baldwin, a brilliant surgeon who becomes an unlikely ally to Jonny Lee Miller‘s Sherlock as the eccentric detective investigates a murder in a hospital.
Read More at: TV LINE
George Tucker is setting his sights on someone not named Zoe Hart. TVLine has learned exclusively that The Newsroom actress Kelen Coleman has booked a recurring role in Hart of Dixie‘s upcoming second season. She joins the CW charmer as Presley, a pretty but tomboyish beer distributor who, while at the Rammer Jammer, catches the eye of the newly single George (played by Scott Porter).
Read More at: TVLINE
5. The Sorkin of It All
The reason critics take pot shots at The Newsroom is the same reason fans tune in religiously: Aaron Sorkin. Say what you want about his scripts (and it’s been said here repeatedly), there’s a magnetism to his work that’s proven time and time again. Sports Night, The West Wing, A Few Good Men and The Social Network come to mind. And those are just some of the successes. Sorkin recycles plots and acts like no one will notice. He objectifies women and claims the show doesn’t have a sexist tone. He sticks to his patented and well documented devices like heavily worded, fast-paced dialogue with no intention of changing. And the public devours it every week anyway. For better or worse, everything wrong about the show pulls in viewers just as much as everything right.
4. The Munn-ster
What can’t be said about Olivia Munn? Up until now, she’s been relied upon for her perfect comedic timing. But within a few episodes of The Newsroom she quickly distinguished herself as an actress with range. She’s mastered Sorkin’s quickfire speeches with notable prowess. Being a female, her character has been in no way safe from constant misogyny. Somehow Munn is able to shine, while confusing Annie Oakley with Annie Get Your Gun and constantly projecting body image issues on others. She managed to exude charm while her stunning figure was a consistent focal point when stuck on the tarmac during “5/1.” Her chemistry with the staff is almost palpable; she often shines opposite Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, and Thomas Sadoski. It would be nice to see her break the shackles of chauvinism once and for all. Her character is light years ahead of the rest of the accursed female cast.
Q. But will we see the nice side of “The Newsroom’s” Reese, because I don’t see it happening – and you only have the finale to show it!
A. Yeah, I understand. He’s such a bastard, isn’t he? Yeah, he’s such a bastard. Well, I come back in the finale – I won’t ruin it for you – but Reese gets into some … He’s constantly pushing everybody’s buttons, you know? But it’s fun to play that role, especially when everyone else on it is so into aspiring to be better and hold news to a high standard. It’s sort of fun to be the antagonist of it all.
While some of the initial criticism of Aaron Sorkin’s return to TV may have been warranted at the start of the season, I’m truly baffled by the continued badgering the HBO drama has received. The complaints came from all angles: It’s too preachy, it’s too talky, it’s too soapboxy…
My take? It seems to me that most TV critics took offense to “The Newsroom” because parts of it hit too close to home. Blasphemous? Perhaps. There’s no denying that most mass media companies (like the fictitious Atlantis Cable Network) do struggle daily with the notions of covering such events as Anthony Weiner’s infamous Twitter crotch shot. The show does a valid job of attempting to answer the question: Do we cover the news or merely what people want to watch or read?
As a fan who just happens to work in a newsroom, I can’t help but raise my glass to HBO and Sorkin for delivering a mostly-entertaining show that, in broad strokes, delved into that very notion above.
After all, many of those “serious journalists” who condemn the ideals of Sorkin’s newsroom don’t have to wallow in the shallow end of the pond by stooping so low as to cover the circus that was Casey Anthony or dare we say, the birth of Snooki’s baby. Right?
Here’s four reasons why “The Newsroom” works:
JEFF DANIELS: Who knew that this thesp-for-hire had so much bottled up charisma? As the anchor for the Atlantis Cable News’s flagship show “News Night,” Will McAvoy is both obnoxious, uncertain and noble. Daniels (who just may be channeling Fox’s Bill O’ Reilly or liberal commentator Keith Olbermann) brings an earnest charm with a roguish flair. The more he’s on, the more the show shines.